Saturday, December 22, 2007

Updated reading list & a website acting funny

Hey everyone, out there on the InterWebs, I got through my issue of Ale Street News and am halfway through the first of the Beer Advocates. Too bad I picked up the latest Ale Street News and Mid-Atlantic Brewing News last night... :)

Tomorrow, I aim to go to my local super market and buy 5 gallons of pasteurized apple cider to make a hard apple cider. I want to see if the yeast that I have is still viable (the expiration date is coming up, fast). I'll pitch the yeast and let it run.

Anyway, I remember 8012 years ago stumbling upon The U.S. Beer Drinking Team's website. Not to glorify binge drinking, but it catered itself to being a MySpace or Facebook of the beer world. Meet up with folks in the real, physical world at a bar or whatever. I registered and looked at their posts, and what they had. It was simple, but hey, not like I have done anything better. It seems that over the past few weeks they updated the website, completely, and now you have to re-register. I just find that to be a real thorn in my side. They could have kept the old profiles and not make everyone re-reg. Geez. They also used to have a nice screensaver which you could download for free. I have it on my machine, it scrolls through very artistic photos of beer. I'm going to see if they still have it on the site to download.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Good lord, look at the reading list I have to catch up on...

I have been so busy at work that I haven't had any time to take a break, even just a five minute one, to catch up on any of my beer reading. Here's my back log:Phew...quite the list. And me, being "Mister Anal-retentive", I have to read every single word in any book or any magazine that I lay my hands on. I even use the carpet bombs as bookmarks.

I'll let you know if I can ever catch up.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Flying Dog closing down the Denver brewery - moving to Maryland

I just caught wind of this through's forum.

Flying Dog is closing down the Denver brewery to move all production to Frederick, Maryland (right down the street from us). If you don't know the story behind that, Flying Dog bought the revamped Frederick Brewing Company in early 2006, and now produces 70% of their beer from that brewery (which is a statistic I did not know).

The really, really nice thing that the company is doing for the Denver's production employees is there will be no layoffs - the company is offering them positions at the Frederick brewery, including relocation packages. I'll tell you what, given the real estate prices around here, now, that's going to be quite a pinch in the old Flying Dog wallet...

Check out the Flying Dog homepage and this message from Flying Dog President and CEO, Eric Warner.


Eric, send me some oaked Gonzo for Christmas, please.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Hops Shortage = Increased Prices?!?

A friend sent me an article from National Public Radio (NPR) titled - Hops Shortage Likely to Boost Price of Beer.

To sum it up - due to really bad weather in Europe; decreased hops production here, in the US; and an increase in the price of barley, due to farmers switching to raising corn crops for ethanol production (more money to be made with that) we could be looking to have a price increase anywhere between 20 to 80 percent for hops. How wild is that?

This will hit fellow homebrewers hard and the microbrewers even harder, due to the quantity of specialty hops they use. Soooo long double and triple IPAs.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Brew Day: A Comedy of Errors - Lichtenhainer

I woke up pretty early to get a head start and prep my equipment, including my new mash tun. However, I got caught up in a bunch of stuff and didn't get to it until after breakfast. But, let me tell you how this comedy of errors (or, should I say tragedy) started...

While sitting at my computer (where Beer Tools lives) I started to review my checklist of equipment, ingredients, and procedures. I knew I had all of the ingredients - 11 pounds of milled grain, 1.5 ounces of hop pellets, and 2 vials of WLP001 Cal. Ale yeast. And, by now, I should have had all of the necessary equipment; especially my new Coleman™ "mash tun", that has a 36 quart capacity. I needed the new mash tun since I was going to mash-in two batches for a total of 15 gallons of water for 11 pounds of grain... Wait a minute, what?!? 11 pounds x 1.375 quarts of water/pound = 15 quarts. DAMNIT! 15 quarts, not 15 gallons... GRR

Rachel lauded me for catching the problem, and it's always nice to have an extra cooler, right?

I schlepped all of my clean and sanitized equipment to the garage and set it up so I could jump right in, light up the propane-powered turkey fryer and get to it. Armed with 15-ish quarts of strike water, I started the fire and let it run. Then, I brought up the grain and proceeded to pour it into the empty Igloo™ mash tun. Sigh, Error #2. When my water reached it's proper temperature (mash temp + 11 deg. F), I poured it into the grain-filled cooler. Rachel helped out by stirring the grain while I got a nice exfoliating steam treatment. She also made the classic Shakespearean cauldron comment as the bed of grain began bubbling. If I only knew what toil and trouble I was in for...

After 60 minutes, I went to the tun with an empty kettle to collect my first runnings before the sparge. I opened the valve and this wonderful brown smoky, earthy liquid started draining. Man, it was nice. Standing there, listening to football on the radio, I noticed the flow tapering off. Strange, I thought, as the cooler still had quite a bit of malty water in it. I shook it around, I stirred it, but the flow simply stopped! I fought with this for 10 solid minutes; I wasn't having a stuck mash! But, sure enough, I did. I muttered expletives as I tried to get this to drain. And you know what? With all of my magazines, books, and the trusty Internet, my stupid self decided that it would be better to dump it. So, I muttered some more expletives as I dumped the paltry 1 gallon of wort and remaining water & grain in the field in our back yard. Let this be a lesson to you - pour the hot water into the mash tun first, then add the grain while stirring it. (Now the birds and squirrels have a tasty smoked "oatmeal" to munch on.) At least I can begin the winning pumpkin spice recipe! (I will attempt the smoked beer again, don't you worry!)

...Did I mention I smoked some of my own grain for this beer? Here's a picture of the contraption Pops built for me to use the Weber for smoking. The trick? Soak oak chips or an oak barrel stave for 1~2 hours. Put those on a cool to medium fire and watch the smoke, well, smoke. (Just be careful of hot spots observed through the hole in the upper right of the picture.)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Lots to cover about Oktoberfest

This year's Oktoberfest was pretty fun, well organized and featured more breweries than those of previous years. DuClaw certainly cleaned up the field taking several bronze, silver, and gold medals for the brewery competition. A big congratulations to Red Brick Station for winning the Governor's Cup for the first time, with "Something Red". (Clipper City won the cup each of the past two years.)

Alas, I did not place in the homebrew competition, but I can say I tried! One thing that ticked me off about the contest was the fact that none of the winners were present to claim their trophies. It was explicitly written on the entry form that the winners had to be there to claim the goods. - As a matter of fact, let me step up on my soapbox for a minute - When the emcee took the mic and broadcast that it was time to announce the results for the homebrew competition, he asked for all of the contestants to step forward toward the stage. I did as the man asked, and found myself standing, alone, in front of the stage. Everyone else was in a line 20 feet behind me. Was I embarrassed? Hell no, I participated! I am proud that I gave it a shot - so are all of my friends and family! And I was certainly proud to stand in front of Volker Stewart, the main man behind Brewer's Art, as he read the results. However, I am very upset that the winners seemingly trivialized this contest. Screw you! If I can make it to a 12:30 Saturday meeting, you can too. I personally fell they should have forfeited and given the trophy to the next person in line. I'm not saying it was me or should have been me, and I am certainly not jealous. I honestly believed I had a fair shot, which is why I entered! Just don't be a jerk and assume that, at the end of the day, you'll get the prize if you aren't there. <sarcasm>A great example of conradery was felt and experienced.</sarcasm> Thank you.

We continued walking around and began the tour of taste. I'm pretty sure we made our first stop at The Wharf Rat. :) I had a strong dark ale, and our friend Erica tried a beer that was brewed with either honey or maple, I can't recall. What I do remember is it was tasty and refreshing!

We moved on to Clipper City, the Balto-MarzHon was fresh and on target! With a mug of Marzen we walked out to the track and watched the "Carry your wife contest". I'll tell you what, it was ridiculous. There were a couple of wicked face plants and I hope the young ladies are feeling better.

After the race was over, we retired for a few minutes for some food. I'll tell you what, as always G.T .Roadsters had some of the greatest sandwiches around! They have a tow-behind smoker that is loaded with wood, ham, beef, and turkey. Man, that was goooooood stuff!

The food was even better when washed down with Brewer's Alley cask-conditioned New Moon ale. Hoppy, smooth, and fresh. Quite possibly one of the best beers I have had in my life. Top 10, at least.

Erica tried the Pumpkin ale from Growler's. I sipped and enjoyed it, but she thought it was a little too spicy.

We walked over to DuClaw for some Misery, a wheat wine (which they were out of). So, we tried the Frambroise - a funky Belgian brewed with raspberries. For the first lambic-style beer, I was very, very impressed.

We continued walking around for a few minutes more and I ended the day with a fine sample of DuClaw's BlackJack Imperial stout.

Aside from my personal rant, the event was overall enjoyable.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Maryland Brewer's Oktoberfest Tomorrow!

Where are you going to be tomorrow? You better be in Timonium! That is where the Maryland Brewer's Oktoberfest is going to be!

Judging results for the homebrew competition will be at 12:30 PM sharp! If you can't make it, keep me in your thoughts, as the American IPA I brewed - Right Lane Closed - was one of the contenders!

I'll post the results and the other offerings of the day in the next post.

(By the way, DuClaw is going to be showing Colossus tomorrow, it's offical.)

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Buffalo Brewpub

We went to The Buffalo Brewpub as a birthday surprise from Rachel to me. It had a very homey feel, you were able to seat yourself and service was prompt. Our waitress asked what we would like to drink and I asked for a sampler of there beer. She told us they did not have a flight of beer; however, she could bring individual samples over and they'd be about $1.75/each (actually $1.00/each). I told her that was fine and she brought back their Buffalo Lager (a Helles), a pale ale, a red ale, Nickel City dark, and oatmeal stout.

On with the show...

I started with the Helles, which had a rather fruity smell and some corn-like taste. I don't know if this was traces of DMS, but I did not like it.

Next, I went with the pale ale. It smelled, looked, and tasted just like caramel and imparted no noticeable hop aroma or taste.

The "brown", I mean red, which was the same color as the pale ale, but had zero flavor. I have no idea what this beer was about. And still don't.

My next stop on this flavor "adventure" was actually the oatmeal stout. Okay, not smooth or velvety, it did have a nice head and decent retention and that's about it. They could have done soooo much more with this beer! Give it some Crystal 120 malt! Some Melanoidin malt!

And we end with the dark. So, this beer and the oatmeal stout shared the same level of color, until held against the light. Both had deep, deep garnet highlights, but the dark was a notch or two lighter. (Why wasn't that damn stout opaque.) When I sniffed it for the first time, I picked up some dark fruit notes - like prunes and dates - that had been heated in a saute pan. However, the taste... the taste... GEEZ , LOUISE! How much roasty, burned funky flavor can you cram in a beer? I don't know, but I can tell you that this beer could probably reign supreme in that category. Icky, icky.

To add insult to injury, they did not include their seasonal offering - an Oktoberfest - in the flight; which is okay as I didn't have room for it anyway.

I will give The Buffalo Brewpub kudos on the guest beer selection - somewhere around 25 taps. I wanted to try the Rohrbach Scotch Ale, a local, but again, had no room.

I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, but coming from a out-of-towner, I wasn't super impressed.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Back from Niagara Falls, Canada!

Hey everyone, we got back from Niagara Falls yesterday, and I promise I will write another post describing the beer adventure that Rachel took me on for a birthday surprise!


Thursday, October 4, 2007

Tonight was the big night!

Hey everyone!

I stopped by MDHB tonight and dropped off 3 bottles of Right Lane Closed, my first American IPA. It's for the homebrew contest that is being judged at the Maryland Brewer's Oktoberfest on October 20, at the Maryland State Fairgrounds, in Timonium, MD!

So, it is with this that I ask everybody who is able to come down to the Fairgrounds - we've been there the past four years in a row and have always had incredible fun. And cross your fingers that I come home with a. great feedback and b. hopefully a Best of Show!


Tuesday, October 2, 2007

What's Next? Why, Pumpkin Spice Ale, of course!

I want to thank everybody who voted this round! I will be headed to Maryland Homebrew to pick up a whole mess of supplies. Hopefully, this brew will be the first to go into my new Cornelius kegging system. (Hint, hint to someone.) I will have a complete write-up on my steps, and how to throw in some wonderful fresh spices and use some fresh pumpkin.

If you have any feedback, ideas or questions, feel free to reach us by clicking the link on the right-side of this page, under the picture. It'll email us and we'll get back to you ASAP.


Sunday, September 30, 2007

Only 17.5 hours left!

There are only 17.5 hours left to vote on the next beer style that I brew! It looks like Pumpkin Spice Ale is going to win, with 50% of the vote. Get out there and vote! It's not even 10 seconds of your time. The poll is on the right of the page, under the picture.

On a somber note, remember that tonight is the global toast to Michael Jackson at 9 PM. The Brewer's Art is having a special charity dinner and toast tonight from 7 to 9 PM, where 20% of the entire restaurant's take will go to the National Parkinson Foundation. So, everybody who is able, please make this event. It will go toward some wonderful, life-saving research!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Oh, the Sea of Humanity...

Well, we just got back from the 2nd Maryland Microbrewery Festival held at the Union Mills Homestead, and let me tell you that today's weather could not have been scripted - it was absolutely perfect!

However, HOWEVER, compared to last year's event, there was probably about twice as many folks. (I heard from one organizer perhaps 5,000 people.) Which is great for growth of the event, but the nine breweries that were there were caught a tad off-guard. First, the setups were struggling with the lines. There was a desperate need for more taps and more folks manning them. Second, and more important, they were running out of beer. They were running OUT of beer! It all began with The Raven, and starting drying up from there...

That aside, it was pretty damn fun. They had some crafts, vendors, plenty of food, live (albeit bad) music and a bunch of happy people.

I started with my local favorite, Clay Pipe's Hop-ocalypse. I have to say, I actually prefer this from the bottle. It left a wonderful resin coating on the tongue, very citrus-y.

We moved on to Clipper City and I had Loose Cannon Hop3 (hop-cubed, 3 pounds per barrel). This beer, on tap, was much better than Clay Pipe's Hop-ocalypse. It was very spicy, tangy and smooth.

My next venture was to The Raven. Where, after waiting 30 minutes for a new keg to stop foaming, they ran out. They ran out of beer. They ran out of both of the beers they were serving. What a pain in the ass!

So, we switched lines to Johansson's with a German Alt on tap. It was brown, foamy and completely devoid of flavor. I take that back, it had flavor, of sour and cardboard. I doubt they would have used any acidulated malt, but maybe.

I will note that DuClaw had Euphoria, Misfit Red, Sawtooth, and Funk on tap. Jim, head brewer, generally has something special up his sleeve at events like this (like the 21% ABV Colossus at last year's Maryland State Oktoberfest) but we didn't bother sticking around.

I finished our venture back at Clay Pipe for some Backfin Pale Ale. What can I say, I'm a sucker for what I know. It's not that I didn't like the other breweries (I have been to them all), but when things are dry and it's getting late in the day, go with something easy.

All in all, very well done. There are improvements to be made, for sure, but we're just there to have fun.

2nd Annual Maryland Microbrewery Festival

Hey Everybody!

We are going to be at the Maryland Microbrewery Festival tomorrow afternoon. The party starts at 11 AM and ends at 7 AM. The festival is located at the historic Union Mills Homestead, right off of MD route 97.

If you plan on coming up for it and staying the entire day, might I suggest you bring a sweatshirt or a light jacket - it got mighty cold up there last year!

We hope to see you there. If you want to find us, Nick will be wearing a black hoodie with a keg embroidered on the front and the words "brew crew" around the top of the keg.


Thursday, September 27, 2007


Budweiser Budvar versus Pilsner Urquell

This is the the paramount battle of who is the king of Pilsners!

Tale of the Tape

Budweiser Budvar
Pilsner Urquell
a bit
than PU
tasteclean, crispclean, crisp
adjunctcornnone noticed
hopsmidly bittermidly bitter
aromaslight sulphurorange, spice
mouthfeelsolid, easysolid, easy

There is something special about pilsners and Mexican food around our house. Pilsner Urquell is always excellent; however, but the combination of elements within Budweiser Budvar really made for one of the finest beers that I have had in a while. There was something special in that bottle, which is why it took the prize!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Legends Limited 2nd Annual Fall Trade Show

While at the Ft. Meade Oktoberfest, we were lucky enough to meet Dan Bosserman, a sales manager for Legends Limited. After chatting for a few minutes about some beers he was representing, he asked if we weren't busy Monday night we were welcome to attend Legends Fall trade show. Of course, we accepted his offer and made our way down there around 6:30 Monday night.

They had a very nice setup with a big pavilion over the entrance that led into their warehouse. I tell you what, I have never seen more beer in my life! There were kegs, pallets, and cases stacked to the ceiling! It was so cool. There were several beers and wines on display from various breweries and vineyards. It looked like Belgian's stole the show.

I began with a pale ale (that I unfortunately don't recall what it was) that was poured by a guy who looked like he'd rather be anywhere but there - I thanked him and we moved on.

We moved on to Lakefront Brewery and there were two pretty nice guys representing the brewery who were there on short notice. I got to try their Fuel Cafe, which is a coffee stout, a bit roasty and strong. Rachel got to try the Golden Maple Root Beer, which is flavored with (duh) maple syrup. That was really tasty. We both enjoyed it. They also had something called New Grist, which is a gluten-free beer, so those afflicted by Celiac disease can enjoy a brew. NG is definitely an acquired taste, completely unlike barley malt-based beer; however, it was very drinkable.

Our next stop was to Oskar Blues. The fella working the table was kind enough to pour my first sample of Dale's Pale Ale. Man, I tell you what, that is how beer in a can should taste: full of hops and flavor! This would be an awesome trick to play on your pals that drink Bud Light. :) That's their secret, OB was the first microbrewery to brew and can their own beer. Contrary to what the mega-breweries have forced down our throat (cans = bad), modern canning technology (sounds weird, huh?) has experienced several innovations, where what is inside may essentially last forever. Delicious! I did not try the two other beers they had there, as I feel that I would have been on my ass, early.

We mozied along and saw a table with Great Divide's brews. Stupid me should have stopped by for some Hades and Samurai.

I stopped by a small setup, by the Merchant Du Vin table, where I had Belzebuth by Brasserie Grain D'Orge. The neck label had a big "13" printed on it, as the gentleman poured it for me, I asked what the number meant. He was quick to point out that this was a modest 13% ABV beer. Dumbfounded by this beer (I had only ever heard of it by name), I took a big whiff. The nose was incredibly full of malt (and the bottle is labeled "pur malt") and some spicy esters. I'll say it was sweet, but not cloying, and had an immediate warming effect. Belzebuth would be wonderful next to a fire on a cold winter night, with one bottle split among many friends.

The tour took us to the Bitburger/Augustiner stand, (Bitburger is one of my perennial favorites). There I sampled Maximator and Lagerbier Hell from Augustiner.

Next door were several Belgian offerings, with some that I especially wanted to try, including the Bosteels Brewery Kwak. Kwak was a super beer - tastes of mango and coriander. Dominick, the fella who was pouring it, was very pleasant but kind of cocky. I think I would have been too if I were a homebrewer (which I am, of course, and he was) getting a chance to strut my stuff by working a trade show. He explained that his club (I forgot their name) gets to work with the brewers at DuClaw and collect their second runnings for some special club brews. (I have to admit, I am not part of a club - yet - but I am more interested in Jim at DuClaw getting that Colossus [21% ABV] on tap!) Dom knew his stuff though, which was very cool. Next, he poured Belgium's answer to West Coast hopped beer. I have no idea what it was (although he poured it from a champagne bottle) but it was definitely a Belgian and definitely a hop MONSTER! Very good, very smooth, with lots of fun fruity esters. The Kwak was extraordinarily nice too! Easy on the palette with malt and fruit highlights.

Lagunitas Brewing Company was our next to last stop. They had three beers there: their IPA, Chronic... err, I mean Censored, and Imperial Red. The IPA was bitey and gently teetered on the edge of a traditional IPA and American IPA. The Red was, whew, like a big red IPA - it was a remarkable beer. Censored was caramely, but I can't recall more... We really liked the guy who was pouring for us. He explained that he was from the Tahoe region, 2 hours from the brewery, and told us about the history of the brewery - from their humble beginning up to now; their regular and seasonal line up; and his relation to the company. Very awesome!

Our adventure ended with Cape Ann Brewing Company. We actually were headed on our way to thank Dan, but the young woman who was 'manning' the station (next to a seemingly popular wine station) asked if I'd like to try a sample of their Pumpkin Stout. It was a very roasty beer that actually burned on the sides of my tongue. I was not able to detect any spice or pumpkin, just intense roast. I think they may need to go back and rethink
  1. putting pumpkin in a stout
  2. putting pumpkin in a stout
  3. putting pumpkin in a stout
  4. putting pumpkin in a stout
  5. their general stout recipe
However, I would like to try their other beers.

Weyerbacher was also there. Unfortunately it was time to go, so next time I will have to try Blithering Idiot and Simcoe IPA.

Again, a big thanks to Dan Bosserman and the crew at Legends! We had a blast!


Friday, September 21, 2007

Fort Meade Oktoberfest tomorrow!

It's a little late notice, but -

Hey everyone, tomorrow from noon to 11:30PM (man, that's a party) is the Ft. Meade Oktoberfest, which is completely open to the public! They're going to have food, crafts, and a small fair for the kids.

You can find out more by heading to their site, Ft. Meade Oktoberfest and giving it a once-over.

I am also aiming to brew my Lichtenhainer this Sunday. It might be a little darker than what's to style, but then again I might be redefining the style, since it's been extinct for several, several decades. If it turns out well, then it might be a fall seasonal when I get the brewery up and started, for real! :)

We're also kinda messing around with doing some birch beer or root beer (thanks to Johnny Max and Captain Ron at for some hints) and putting that on tap (for family-friendliness).

Until next time!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Tribute to Michael Jackson

There will be a global tribute to Michael Jackson on September 30, 2007, at 9:00PM. Please join all in honoring the legacy of a truly great man.

The picture is courtesy of

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Best Brewpubs in the Baltimore-Metropolitan Area

Last night, at dinner, Rachel harped upon a great idea: make a list of Maryland brewpubs we have visited, in order of those we really enjoyed to those that left a little to be desired. At the bottom, we included a link to a Google Map of the brewpubs.

A formality: brewpub - must brew and serve their own beer, along with casual fare.

<drum roll, please> Here is our list! At the same time, did we leave some one off? What are your preferences? We'd really like to see them, so leave a comment!
  1. Dogfish Head Alehouse, Gaithersburg
  2. The Brewer's Art, Baltimore
  3. DuClaw Brewing Company, Arundel Mills
  4. Red Brick Station, White Marsh (T-4)
  5. Ellicott Mills Brewing Company, Ellicott City (T-4)
  6. Capitol City Brewing Company
  7. Barley & Hops, Frederick
  8. Johanssons, Westminster
  9. Brewer's Alley, Frederick
A few places that we have to revisit or go to for the first time:
  • The Wharf Rat
  • Growlers
  • Franklin's
  • Ram's Head Tavern
  • Rocky Run
  • Ryleigh's (if they are still open...)

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The race to 1000 hits is on!

Hey everybody,

As the title suggests, the race is on to 1000 hits. What does this mean to you, in cyberspace? Well, in the short-term it means you get to vote for the next style to be brewed! Go ahead and participate in the poll I have set up on the right ---->

Votes will be tallied at midnight, September 30th. Barring any extra-worldly event, the beer will be brewed on the first weekend of October. I tried to pick out some decent fall styles. Since I don't have a lager setup (but Christmas is just around the corner. Hint, hint, honey!), we'll have to stick with ales. I think ales complement the changing, colder weather just a little bit better than lagers, anyway.

Also, I will be keeping track of the visitor log. Lucky number 1000 might get something special. (You'll probably never turn down free beer, right?)


Sunday, September 2, 2007

Washington Post - Beer Laid Bare: Labels That Tell All

Hey everyone, the old man cut this out of the Washington Post for me earlier this week. It was in their every other week beer column from Wednesday, August 29.

The author, Greg Kitsock, was saying that a proposal has been brought up by the Tax and Trade Bureau (div. of the Treasury) to require a serving facts label on all alcoholic beverage containers. You know the kind: number of servings, calories, fat content, etc.

He spoke to Paul Gatza, the director of the Brewers Association, about this and Gatza mentioned that many of our micro brewery and craft brewery friends might be caught in a pinch, as they will have to make room for these new labels on the back of the bottles, which could cost the industry "tens of millions of dollars". Gatza says that the trouble is not with showing the information, but how it actually shows on the packaging.

"The Tax and Trade Bureau has given the public until Oct. 29 to submit comments." Depending on what comes back to the government, they might amend the proposal. If it passes successfully, brewers will have a 3 year window to get their stuff on the back of the bottle.

Here is a link to the original article, registration required.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Reading List

Hey everyone, I just wanted to give a quick run-down of books that I am currently reading and will give some mini-reviews of:

  • rereading John Palmer's How to Brew (the old testament) in conjunction with,
  • Radical Brewing, Randy Mosher (the new testament) and Designing Great Beers, Ray Daniels (the lost gospels) ;)
  • Eve Adamson's Beer: Domestic, Imported and Home Brewed
  • Michael Jackson's Great Beer Guide and
  • The Brewmaster's Table, Garrett Oliver

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Alas, the Beer Hunter is gone.

It is a sad day in the brewing world. Michael Jackson, world renowned advocate for all things brewed and distilled has passed on to better places.

We'll miss you, Michael. There will always be a pint for you at our house!

1942 - 2007 (picture courtesy of

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

What? What does that sign say ahead?!?

"RIGHT LANE CLOSED?!? Dammit, it's 11 o'clock at night on Memorial Day weekend, we're 10 miles to the New York state line, and there is no one working here tonight! Dammit, I hate the Pennsylvania State Highway system! You know what I'm going to do, I'm going to make an IPA, an IPA that is so bitter, that it will burn on every sniff and every swallow. I HATE PENN DOT!"

Yeah, so that is the short and simple of a drive my wife and I had going to my in-laws house that weekend. Needless to say, I brewed this bad boy, and my effort of making an over-the-top bitter IPA kinda backfired. It backfired by coming out really, really, REALLY good. It is oh so smooth, citrusy, floral, and deceiving - at ~6.8% ABV.

This was also the first time I used whole-leaf hops. It was fun, but I think I am going to stick with pellets, as they leave less muck in the wort. However, at bottling time, I had a little bit of fun with some Cascade hops - I put them in a nylon bag and dropped them in my bottling bucket for some "fresh" hop aroma.

When it was all said and done, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. Definitely worth brewing again.


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

New Looks-a-coming!

A big what's up to everyone reading this. I know, it's been waaaaaaaaaaaay too long, and I said before that I would be updating this regularly. I'm sorry for that fib, but things have been going nuts for us in SaB-land.

I'm working on getting a facelift to the site and making it snazzier. I'll be sure to post once it is done.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Retro Reviews

Bert Grant's Perfect Porter
Consumed: May 2001

WHAM! Chocolate. POW! Coffee. This was the beer that truly opened the door for me, and led to have a much greater appreciation for experiencing rather than getting sloppy. This is my model for a perfect porter. Call me biased, but this is my blog! :)

I had this beer while on vacation in Florida, and haven't been able to get it here, in Maryland, ever!

I don't know if I will ever have a beer quite as good as this one, as it paved the way for an obsession.

RIP Bert Grant, 2001

Grade: A++

Hoegaarden (on draft, in Ottawa)
Consumed: say, 2005?

Man, what can I say? A gigantic glass filled with bananas and cloves. That about sums it up.

I fell in love with this at first sniff. It had a super pale yellow/green color with a good solid 2 fingers of head. It was so good, that every night on my business trip I went back to the same pub and ordered it!

The restaurant served a wood-fired pizza with grilled chicken and veggies on top that this witbier absolutely complemented perfectly!

It still remains as one of my top 10 beers!

Grade: A+

Thursday, May 10, 2007

How about a tall, cool glass of water?

Our water is city water, and even for being in a rural part of our state, it's not the greatest stuff on Earth. To me, it tastes a little tinny, and sometimes gets what I call a beef bullion smell to it that really turns me off. Thank heavens for companies like Brita and PUR! The only problem is, those systems cost mucho dinero for replacement water filters and they are notoriously slow. I could opt to have a system installed in my sink that filters it as it comes out of the tap, but that too costs big bucks. That's when I found a neat article in a recent issue of BYO (Jan/Feb 07). Someone submitted a how-to on creating your own high-flow, high capacity water filter. Stuff of sheer genius! I built it according to spec and must say that I am thoroughly impressed with the simple, $40 setup.

Parts required:
1 2" 90-degree PVC elbow joint
2 2" x 1/2" PVC bushing adapters
1 2" x 3" PVC coupling
1 1/2" male thread x 5/8" hose barb, brass
1 1/2" male thread x 1/2" hose barb, brass
1 universal dishwasher snap adapter
various length of 5/8" vinyl tubing
1 Culligan WHR-140 in-line water filter
teflon (plumbing) tape

It's a super-easy build. First, everything should be thoroughly cleaned with hot soap and water (except for the water filter and tape, of course).

Next, slide the water filter into the smaller diameter end of the elbow joint. The unit won't go in all the way, which is no problem for this build.

Take the coupling and put it over the end that you just installed the water filter in; then install the bushing adapters into each side of the elbow joint.

Wrap a lot of tape around the brass bulkheads and screw them into the bushing adapters. (5/8" bulkhead on the inlet side, the side with the water filter.)

Attach your vinyl tubing and dishwasher adapter (so it can attach to the kitchen faucet) and prime your Culligan water filter. It says to run water through it until you get a steady stream. I found this took about 5 minutes, but due to the age of your filter, YMMV (your mileage may vary).

The filter itself is rated at 10,000 gallons, and cost $10 from Ace Hardware. This was a super-simple and fast build up - it's well worth the investment!

Complete setup

Wednesday, May 9, 2007


I have come back to BLOGGER!

Sorry for the lack of posts, folks. I have been super busy lately, and just had zero time to write. However, I have made some openings in the schedule and you'll be seeing some regular posts starting tomorrow!


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Beer Reviews

Duvel, Belgian Golden Ale
Best Before: 03/09

This was everything I came to expect and more. However, note that this must be poured extremely slow! I cannot emphasize this enough. It was a pale, straw-yellow color with a big, fluffy & crisp head. The foamy head had excellent retention and lacing. It sat in the glass with tiny champagne-like bubbles and a very clean, refreshing finish.

Grade: A-

Stoudt's Mai Bock
Best Before: ?

The first few sniffs delivers some raisins and plums, maybe even prunes... The tasted brings a sweet malt on the back of the tongue with hops showing their face on the front and sides of the tongue. The overall taste verifies it all. One kind of nagging issue is the easy detection of alcohol on this brew - at 7% it's not DFH 120 Minute, but it's very noticeable. This beer has a wonderful red/orange color with a dash of caramel.

Grade: B

P.S. I got some coffee on the finish and lacing on my glass like a champ. As the beer warms up a little bit, it sweetened up. If I didn't all ready give this a grade, I'd bump it up to B+.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Beer Reviews

Rolling Rock Extra Pale Lager
Bottled on: 22-Jan-07

Oh, Anheuser-Busch, what kind of lame, pathetic excuse for R&R is this? There is no bouquet, no bite, and no damn finish! This is crapola. My wife and I used to drink this by the case, as we were young, poor college graduates just making it in this world. We enjoyed the fine and smooth taste that came from the glass-lined tanks of Old Latrobe. Now, this is made in Jersey. Wonderful.

Keep snatching up classic American breweries and micros, maybe you can ruin their recipes too, and start us on a plunge back into the beer dark ages.

Grade: D

Monday, April 2, 2007

Carboy and bottling update

Sorry it's taken me 8012 years to get this uploaded, but here goes our carboy (secondary fermentation vessel) and bottling days extravaganza!

March 24, 2007 - Enter the carboy
So, this is actually quite simple. Get a good siphon going from the primary and let her rip! Just make sure that the carboy is nice and clean and sanitized!

Mmmm, yeasty goodness

I wrapped the carboy in some beach towels to keep it at as constant a temperature as I could, and to block out any light, slapped my bung and airlock on it and let it sit for a week. (UV radiation, is what actually produces the "skunk" in beer. So, a nice crystal clear carboy would allow all of that through.)

April 1, 2007 - I'm no fool when it comes to bottlin' my life away
This too is pretty easy. Overnight I had cleaned and sanitized two cases of 12 oz bottles to make my life pain-free. Until I dropped an empty bottle, neck first, on my foot. Joy.

Moving on, one must carefully transfer the beer from the carboy to the bottling bucket - might I suggest a siphon, again? This time, I broke part of my racking cane connecting the tubing to it. Still usable though. Joy.

Moving on, I boiled 2 cups of water and 5 oz of corn sugar to act as a primer for the left over yeast in the beer. This will allow the yeast to feed and to carbonate the beer once bottled. Pour that in the mix in the bottling bucket full of beer, attach the bottling wand to some more tubing, connect that to the bottling bucket and let her go! Weee!

Capping is actually a pretty fun thing to do, with two people you can roll through two cases in about 10 minutes.

I figure a week or two for conditioning and we'll see what we have. Maybe a rite of Spring fest will be in order...

Saturday, March 31, 2007

CNN's 50 Best Brewers

All though this was from 2005, I think it is still, essentially valid. Especially numbers 25 and 36.

CNN/Money's 50 Best Brewers

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Beer Reviews

Samuel Adams, Longshot 2006 "Boysenberry Wheat"
(Best Before: 06-07)

Pours like a traditional wheat, lots of fluffy white head that dissipates quickly with moderate lacing, cloudy as it should be. Upon smell, nose is walloped with boysenberry and faint hints of bubblegum and blackberry. The color is that of honey oak. Taste, unexpected hops on the side of the tongue that lasts a few seconds, which is followed by the grainy, cereal taste of wheat Chex. Esters come out with second taste along with moderate mouth feel. This is not a beer that I could drink six of; however, it must appeal to someone (my wife and Jim Koch) or they felt sympathetic for the Boston Brewery employee, who has been entering in their home brew contest for the past six years.

Grade: C- (would have been a D if on permanent rotation)

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
(Best Before: no date)

Well, did it live up to the hype? Yes.
West Coast hops? Yes.
Aroma of grapefruit? Yes.
Excellent mouth feel? Yes.
Clean finish? Yes.
Lingering essences? Yes.
Classic model of an "extreme"/West Coast pale ale? Yes.

Grade: A+

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

St. Patrick's Day Brew-Ha-Ha

Hey all,

I promised you pics of the brewing process while making the American Pale Ale that you all voted on. Here we go!

First, I started on Friday night making a starter. The purpose of a starter is to generate more yeast cells so you have an ample amount when you make your big batch of beer. A starter is a super-small batch of beer (1 or 2 quarts) that is made by boiling some water and dried malt extract together for 15 minutes. After that, you cool it down to about 70 deg. F. and add your yeast to the mix and shake it all up. The shaking aerates the beer, which is the fuel necessary for the yeast to convert sugar to alcohol. Here's a pic of what it looks like when it is all said and done:

This sits out for about 12-18 hours at room temperature, until you are ready to "pitch" it. (Pitch means to pour in the wort [pronounced wert], which is described below...)

Now it's time to jump into business! Let me disclose this first: brewing is 90% being a janitor and 10% making a product. CLEAN, SANITARY CONDITIONS ARE AN ABSOLUTE MUST!!!


...on with the show.

First, we start off by putting our grains into a grain bag and tying it off. I chose a pale malt as my base (and the majority of brewers big and small do the same) and chose a nice crystal malt as my specialty malt to add color and a caramel/roasty flavor. That was set aside and I brought 9 and 1/3 quarts of water up to 166 deg. F. This was for my "partial mash", which, this weekend, was a first for me.

Mashing is best defined as: the reaction between enzymes and starch which produces fermentable sugars from malted barley. [Moore, 65]

After the water was up to temperture, I poured it into the ultra-high tech, specialized partial masher - a $15 Rubbermaid™ 5 gallon cooler.

I let that sit for about 45 minutes with the cap securely fastened and wrapped in dish towels to conserve heat. In the mean time, I brought another 4 and 2/3 cups of water up to 180 deg. F. Once the water was getting on a roll, I performed the process of taking my sweet liquor from the coo...err, partial masher and poured it into my brewpot (carefully, no splashing!) and then put that back into the cooler (again, no splashing). This acts as a quick way to filter out big chunks of malt. As the liquid flows through the grain bed, the grains set and capture the big stuff so you can get a pretty clear wort before the big boil. (I kind of cheated on the last go-round as you can see in the pic below. I used a funnel with an ultra-fine strainer inside as a secondary filter.)

I took the additional water I heated and poured it over the grains as well. This acts as a poor-man's sparging. Sparging is where you take some water and sprinkle it over the grains to give them a final washing.

Once I had all of the wort collected, I brought it to a rolling boil (which took forever!) and added my first round hops for the start of the 60-minute boil.

(The gunk on the side is the hops that have managed to splash up there from the boil.)

I added additional hops at the 15- and 0-minute marks for flavor and aroma, respectively. Also, at the 15 minute mark, I dropped in my new piece of equipment, the immersion chiller. This was to sanitize it for the next step. Cooling the wort.

The immersion chiller is about 25 feet of copper pipe with a garden hose or faucet attachment on one end and a drain tube on the other. You pump cold water from the faucet throught the tube which then exchanges heat from the wort to the copper to the water and goes out of the drain. A normal ice bath for cooling would take around 60 minutes to get the wort down to 70 deg. F. The immersion chiller took 8 minutes. I love that thing!

After the wort was at the right temperature, I transferred it to the fermenting bucket. Then back to the brew kettle. Then back to the fermenting bucket. Then back to the brew kettle. Notice a pattern here? Yeast needs oxygen as a fuel source kind of a like an internal combustion engine in our cars uses air and gasoline to make the car go. The yeast uses O2 and the sugar in the wort to make C2H5OH (ethanol) and CO2 (carbon dioxide). I topped off the fermenter to 5 gallons with some good, bottle water and proceeded to pitch the yeast. Afterwards, I put the top onto the fermenter, made sure it had a good seal and put the air lock on.

And wouldn't you know, just about 24 hours later, the air lock was bubbling like crazy - the yeast was having a party. And in a few weeks, we will too!

- I'll post an update this Friday as I transfer this elixir to the carboy (a big glass bottle) for it's secondary fermentation (allows for a cleaner, "filtered" beer) -

Monday, March 19, 2007

Beer Madness

Hey everyone,

Check this out: it is the Washington Post's 2007 Beer Madness competition; it's setup ala the NCAA Tournament.

Some interesting upsets, like Yuengling taking a dive in the first round to Shiner Bock, from Shiner, Texas. And Budweiser narrowly eliminating Victory Lager. From the field of 32, we're down to the quarterfinals. My bets are on Pete's vs. Rolling Rock and Dogfish Head vs. Dominion in the Final Four. From there, I have Rolling Rock Extra Pale Lager vs. Dominion Ale in the Championship, with R&R taking it!

"33", baby!


Saturday, March 3, 2007



Thanks for voting! The ultimate selection for February was the A.P.A. - American Pale Ale.

Stay tuned in for updates and a description on what it takes to successfully brew your own beer!

Also! I am now a proud member of the American Homebrewer's Association!

One final thought on the APA, best summed up by my buddy Ron "Faarooq" Simmons:

DAMN! That's a tasty looking beer!

Monday, February 5, 2007


Please vote for what should come next out of my mad, mad laboratory...err, kitchen. I have 48 empty bottles yearning for some beer! (It's on the right, in blue.)

I'll close the poll on Thursday, March 1st. And brew the winning beer March 3rd! (I'll shop for the fresh goodies that Friday.)

Oh yeah, I'll get you pics of the complete process as I wreck my kitchen!

Remember, be responsible drinkers! And from Kaiser Wilhelm, "Give me a woman who loves beer and I will conquer the world."


Monday, January 22, 2007 by John Palmer has a great crash course in how to brew. The course goes over brewing with malt extract, extract and grain, and brewing with all-grain. Each section is then split into chapters that include; hops, fermenting, bottling, how mash works, and more. This is a wonderful website with lots of good information. It is worth going through page by page.

They have a great section on common problems you find when you're brewing.

Here is one example from the website:

Symptom: The fermentation seems to have stopped but the hydrometer says 1.025.

Cause 1:
Too Cool This situation is commonly referred to as a "stuck fermentation" and can have a couple causes. The simplest cause and probably the most common is temperature. As previously discussed, a significant drop in temperature can cause the yeast to go dormant and settle to the bottom. Cure: Moving the fermentor to a warmer room and swirling the fermentor to stir up the yeast and get them back into suspension will often fix the problem.

Cause 2:
Yeast The other most common cause is weak yeast. Referring back to previous discussions of yeast preparation, weak yeast or low volumes of healthy yeast will often not be up to the task of fermenting a high gravity wort. This problem is most common with higher gravity beers, OGs greater than 1.048.Cure: Add more yeast.

Cause 3:
Low Attenuating Extracts Another common cause for extract kit brewers is the use of extracts high in dextrins. Two brands are known to be high in unfermentables, Laaglanders Dry Malt Extract (Netherlands) and John Bull Liquid Malt Extract (UK). These are not bad extracts, in fact they are high quality, but their use is better suited to heavier bodied beers like strong ales, porters and stouts, where a high finishing gravity is desired.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Some links

Here are two links that I thought might be useful: and

The first link is for brewing a small first batch at home. Early on, I found it to be tremendously useful in regard to the terminology. The second link is for some industrial-strength cooling when you eventually decide to open your own brewery/brewpub. The products here will cool your wort in a jiffy.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

This has nothing to do with brewing

However, this is one of my most favorite sites of all time:

Imagine the lagering and cellar potential in one of these bad-boys!

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Ahh, if I only had $48K

If I had the money and the space, I would snatch this system right up!

Thinking about starting a BrewPub? Do you like the idea of brewing your beer to sell? Then let MoreBeer! help you to change your lifestyle with our new 5 BBL Brewhouse! Manufactured by DME Systems in Canada, and represented by MoreBeer!, this system could be your ideal solution to your production problems. Since both companies are passionate about both beer AND customer service, you can be assured of World Class Support. Beautifully constructed and engineered with the smallest footprint possible ( 40 x 20 ), this BrewHouse is designed to be both completely functional and eye-catchingly attractive.


From the looks of it, all copper for $48,000 seems like a steal for a 5 bbl system.