Sunday, December 20, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
My apologies for taking so long to get the tasting notes for Gizmo Gold posted; I've been very busy with work. So anyway, let's get to it.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Friday, August 21, 2009
Friday, July 31, 2009
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Spent grains from brewing (which are having a more difficult time making their way over to farmers lately, because of stricter regulations now in play) are being used as bio-waste to create steam and bio-gas, which can provide energy for breweries to make more batches of beer. Cool, huh? The grain-to-fuel conversion method of beer power is reported to re-capture 50% of the energy used to make beer!
Personally, I think this is a marvelous step to be looking into taking for the brewing industry. There have already been some trends in alternative energy for various breweries around the world (for example, New Belgium Brewing out in Colorado running on wind energy), but this takes things to a whole new level. Not only is energy consumption reduced, but much of the waste along with it! This is definitely something to keep an eye on.
So, really? Cans? What gives? Well, I've got to say, I never thought I would be drinking great beer out of a can...ever. But, it looks like this is going to start becoming more and more popular in the world of craft beer - and here's why: First and foremost, aluminum cans use much less energy than bottles, and they are also less expensive to recycle; the Can Manufacturers Institute reports that more than half of all aluminum cans are recycled, and this saves 95% of the energy used to manufacture the cans from raw ore. They're also lighter (20 lbs. for a case of cans versus 35 lbs. for a case of glass bottles), smaller, and thus use less fuel to transport. It doesn't take cans nearly as long to get cold as it does bottles, so this cuts energy costs for refridgeration too. Another concern is oxidation and light contamination. A properly sealed can battles the risk of exposure to light and UV very effectively, which could otherwise result in a "skunked" beer from the breakdown of hop compounds. They also protect the beer from oxidation, which can contribute to "skunkiness" as well, much better than bottles and caps (which are more expensive).
But what about taste? Canned beers aren't what they used to be. Today, they are made with a food-grade lining, so the metal never actually touches the beer. There is a slight taste difference, though...at least in one particular case: New Belgium Brewing kicked things off with canning its flagship beer, Fat Tire (which is a remarkable beer, by the way), and has reported that it tastes a little different than it does in the bottle. The reason is that a little extra yeast slurry is added to the cans before they're sealed. The thought behind this procedure is that the cells will consume any residual oxygen left in the head of the can, so it doesn't react unpleasantly with the beer; however, a panel of expert tasters couldn't detect a "discernible difference" between the two versions, but a minority stated that the canned version had a "slightly richer mouthfeel."
Breweries such as the aforementioned New Belgium Brewing and Brooklyn Brewing have already started experimenting with canning. The only main issue, however, is that setting up one's microbrewery to start canning is an expensive venture, so we may not see this taking off as quickly as it probably should - but you never know!
Peace and Love!
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Okay, so...yeah, this isn't a video clip, nor is it a podcast. That will have to wait for another time. I'm doing this the old fashioned way instead (I wonder, are we far enough into the 21st century yet for me to be able to refer to "typing" as "the old fashioned way"...). Frankly, I just never got a chance to set things up, and I want to get this posted before the next batch starts boiling (which, by the way, is no longer going to be a stab at a maple beer, but more on that later).
My better half and I gave this a go on Monday, and, I must say (well, so must she - but not forcefully, of course), this is indeed splendid. I didn't swirl in all of the yeasty goodness the first time around, and it lacked a lot of the mouth-feel I had hoped it would have. Luckily, with the next one, a swirl and tidy kerplunk of the sediment into the glass made all the difference.
Now, in case you didn't catch the title of this post (this would be the time to scroll back up), I've decided to go with "Fuzzie Berr" (pronounce that like you would "bear"). I know, I know, incredibly clever. And what better way to pay homage to one of the wackiest, yet most down-to-earth of Mr. Henson's creations (I should probably also mention that "fuzzy" is a play on the fact that the beer is very hazy and opaque...the name might make more sense now...)? I started with "Minglin' Berries," trying to capture the fact that two particular berries were, in fact, minglin' in the beer (that's what berries do too, by the way...they mingle), as well as try another attempt at a poor joke (I'm not explaining it, figure it out), and I received quite a few great suggestions as well (I particularly enjoyed "Berr Goggles," hehe), but I think this will do.
I'm very excited to hear what my fellow beer geeks will think of this one at my next homebrew club meeting. I'm also going to make sure I hold on to a few of these to enter into the Sunshine Challenge in November (along with anything else I brew between now and then). I guess that means I'm going to have to be a bit more frugal with this batch too then - but there's still plenty to go around!
I already disclosed the Final Gravity and Alcohol By Volume, but for those of you who are interested further, I've got a few more details to throw your way:
Calories per 12-ounce bottle: 173
Color/Standard Reference Method (SRM): 19.5
Homebrew Bittering Units (HBU): 10
Ability to bring a smile to your face: priceless
Here's to the next batch!
Peace and Love!
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Friday, June 26, 2009
Late last night/early this morning, I finished brewing up another batch. Everything went pretty well too. I was aiming for something “light” (and by “light,” I mean “lighter” than what I usually brew) and refreshing for the summer (which actually just started a few days ago). I decided to make an American Wheat and add raspberries and blackberries during the brewing process, much like I did for the banana dunkelweizen a few months ago (I just got my hands on another carboy, so next time I do a similar type of batch, I’ll probably go with a secondary fermentation for the fruit instead).
I still haven’t migrated over into the territory of all-grain brewing (frankly, I don’t think my poor little kitchen could really handle that - so that will definitely be a selling point when we’re in the market for a new place to live, hah), so this was another partial-mash. I used 6.6 lbs. of Light LME, 1/2 lb. of British Crystal malt (60-80 °L), Willamette hop pellets (the current shortage is still preventing me from buying whole hops) for the bittering and finishing, and a basic American Ale yeast strain. I really wanted to use organic, fresh fruit for this batch, but I wasn’t quite ready to sell one of my kidneys yet to pay for it, so I went with frozen (I was going to freeze them beforehand anyway, to rupture the cell walls, so it seemed like the most logical choice). And for those of you who didn’t realize this – myself included – raspberries and blackberries aren’t cheap. Let me just say that this seemingly $40 batch of beer turned into an $80 batch of beer, in a matter of seconds. That said, I expect everyone to at least pretend they like it, if for some reason they do not ;-)
I had read up on using these particular types of berries, and found out that blackberries don’t really add a strong aromatic contribution to the beer when used in small quantities. The advice I had received instructed me to use 1-4 lbs. per gallon brewed; I do 5-gallon batches, so that would have been 5-20 lbs. of blackberries...yeah, not happening in my 5-gallon brewpot. The raspberries required much less (less than half of that suggested for the blackberries). I ended up going with 5 lbs. each (10 lbs. of fruit); this was the first time I used either of these fruits, so I didn’t want to overdo anything (plus, General Mills beat me to “Frankenberry”).
I almost didn’t add any specialty grains to the recipe, because I really didn’t want this one getting too heavy. However, residual sweetness and “body” help compliment the addition of fruit, so it was a toss up between adding a little bit of Crystal malt or Cara-Pils (both of which add some sweeter characteristics, as well as help in “head” retention); I went ahead and gave it a nice little dose of Crystal.
My choice of hops was based on the fact that higher levels of alpha acids, and thus, bitterness, clash with the fruit in these types of beers (something I also had to consider with the banana dunkelweizen). I wanted something aromatic and citrusy, but not too aromatic and citrusy. I also wanted to make sure that the alpha acids were fairly low. So, I took a shot with Willamette hops (4-6% alpha acids), a hybrid of Fuggle, for both the bittering and finishing. We’ll see how it turns out, and I’ll make any necessary adjustments for next time, if need be.
After the boil, I steeped the now, somewhat thawed berries for about twenty minutes, and then strained, sparged (as best I could, given the amount of fruit), and transferred to the carboy. Although, I've got to say, when it came time to add the fruit to the brewpot, I was pretty worried that even 10 lbs. was going to have a hard time fitting. Luckily, it was pretty much a perfect fit. I’ve also been meaning to build an immersion chiller, but still haven’t gotten a chance. Thus, I’ve been forced to put the carboy on an ice bath to cool down the wort. This time, however, the near-frozen fruit did the job for me: immediately after the transfer, the wort reached the proper temperature range for me to pitch the yeast.
I’ve got a good feeling about this batch. My only concern is that the fruit didn’t properly pasteurize in the wort before the transfer. But, I’m far from being neurotic, so I’m sure it’ll actually be okay. Before pitching the yeast, I took a small sip to see how much of the berry flavor had been absorbed. It’s pretty “berry-y,” but I don’t think I overdid it; it’d be a lie to say that I’m not slightly worried that there may be a flavor clash between the two berries, but as usual, Mr. Marley is always right – “time will tell.” I’ll be popping the airlock on in a few days and bottling a week or so thereafter (along with another quick sip). I’m looking forward to seeing how this is going to turn out. If there isn’t much to report until it’s done, keep an eye out for some brief updates via Twitter.
Peace and Love!
6/09 - Minglin’ Berries (Yeah, I don’t know, someone help me with a name)
*Original Gravity: 1.053
*Potential Alcohol: 6.5%
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Saturday, June 20, 2009
I brew my own beer. I do this, mind you, in a ten-foot by two-foot kitchen, and subsequently ferment it in a guest bathroom's walk-in shower roughly twenty feet away. I began doing so because of my love for craft beer, fascination with the process, and inclination towards creativity. The process is cathartic for me; the formulation of the recipe, the preparation and sanitization, the brewing process, the monitoring of yeast populations miraculously turning my unfermented wort into consumable beer. It'd be wrong of me to fail to mention, however, that one of the most rewarding parts of the process is sharing this final product with those closest to me. Brewing beer has become much more than about brewing beer.
As a result of what was fermenting deep down inside (pun intended), a few months ago, I came up with the idea of labeling my little homebrew operation - hoping to capture its essence. I envisioned a particular descriptive name and logo, reflecting the manner in which I brew. After deciding how I wanted to represent this conception, one of my best friends dedicated much of his free time to its design. Thus, Wu Wei Brewing was officially born. I like to refer to it as "a philosophy to brew by." The circular formation (two beer bottles) represents an ancient Chinese symbol depicting the principles of "yin" and "yang." The Chinese characters stand for "wu" and "wei," respectively.
In brief, allow me to explain:
Certain trends in Philosophical Taoism regard the Chinese concept of "wu-wei" (simplified, in a manner of speaking, to mean "effortless action," which is itself a reduction of "wei-wu-wei," or "the action of nonaction") as being seemingly paradoxical; actions presuppose an effort to act on part of the actor. However, a particular interpretation that I find enlightening relates this concept to the deeper, more general understanding of Philosophical Taoism: when one becomes one with the Tao, the dichotomization between the two ceases to be. In the context of "wu-wei," this indicates that there is no longer a distinction between the actor and the action; when one completely becomes an action, the sense that it is an action is lost. Thus, an "effortless action" is truly no action at all - there is no longer a duality dividing the two. In the context of brewing, the distinction between brewer and brewing ceases to exist; the ritual becomes an inner and outer expression of one's being as well. But perhaps we should delve more into this another time...
After much deliberation, I'm getting ready to brew another batch to kick off the summer; if everything pans out correctly, it will be an American Wheat with organic raspberries and blackberries. I have also started researching some ancient ("sacred") and indigenous recipes and ingredients from the "pre-hop" days in brewing; a multitude of various herbs and spices have been used throughout history to make remarkable beers and herbal remedies (the use of hops, as a standard in brewing, is really a much more modern regulation).
Organic ingredients for brewing are still pretty marginal, and hard for me to come by, but I plan on only brewing with 100% organic, and as local as possible, ingredients in the near future.
But anyway, I'm now going to keep a running tab on all things Wu Wei Brewing. So, if you're interested in keeping up with what I've got going on, go ahead and subscribe to this feed (either RSS or email, via the form near the top, right-hand corner of this page), or bookmark it and check back often.
Here's to the next batch!
Peace and Love!
A brief run-down of what I've done so far:
6/08 - American Wheat
*Specific Gravity: 1.008
8/08 - Dry Stout
*Specific Gravity: 1.024
10/08 - A Holer-in' Brown Ale
*Brown Ale, spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and ginger
*Specific Gravity: 1.015
1/09 - Dirty Banana
*Dunkelweizen, brewed with five pounds of ripe banana
*Specific Gravity: 1.013
4/09 - Serrapale Ale
*American Pale Ale, brewed with twelve serrano peppers
*Specific Gravity: 1.012