Saturday, December 29, 2012

Happy New Year in Craft Beer!

Well, it's time for me to put pen to paper again!  Too many people have been asking about my blog and I feel that I have let you all down since I became a sausage inspector for a big east coast meat producer.  It's taken much of my focus to become a productive, innovative and reliable employee there and it's paid off.  My job is interesting and it's not a huge deviation from my path towards brewing, where I ultimately want to be.  Woodworking, surfing, and fishing all will remain my hobbies.  I'm not giving up on the woodworking!  NEVER!  But no income has flown my way in the last 3 years and I have to ask myself if it's worth any more investment to try and make it a successful business.  I do know that I want to make brewing professionally my focus.  I just love it too much!  There are so many exceptional craft breweries now doing some truly extraordinary projects that it would be the ultimate expression of myself to be a part of that scene in some fashion.  True, I am a Dogfish Head fan.  Very much so.  Especially now that they are doing this project on early 19th century industrial revolution ales.  Oh, let me find the link for you.  Hold on...

If you are interested in beer and also want to know the kind of projects that I think are the ultimate expression of craft with a reverence of history, you've got to read that article!  I get excited about the implications of melding craft beer with history because, to be dead honest, I think history revolved around beer!  The first written language of ancient Sumeria was developed to tabulate ingredients involved in making beer!  NOT BREAD.  For me, I love to be engrossed in either crafting wood, or crafting beer.  Woodworking allows me to put my demons at ease through hard work and manual expression with a good bit of cerebral putting of "tab A" into "slot B".  Crafting beer is a whole different story.  It involves 80% of your time into deep investigation of that different beer that you want to create with the rest being hard work and on the cuff ingenuity.  For me, much of the research has been looking into gluten free beers and I started off with the most difficult to date with the chestnut mash of 24 hours!  I've since scaled it back to a few experimental sorghum batches because of the amount of time needed, ease of brewing from an extract AND most importantly cost.  Those two chestnut batches cost 180 bucks!  At this point, I can't afford the time or the money for that again any time soon.  I also did two experiments using the second runnings of grains from a porter and a stout batch to produce two batches of beer from one set of grains and did pretty well on both!  The "small beer" from the second runnings is really pleasant!  The Stout that I just made is good, young, but good.  It was a wee bit complicated from the amount of fat from the bakers chocolate in that I got a bit of, what looks like curd, in the beer.  LOL but it settles out.  Next time, I have to be more strict.  I start to get cocky and think that I have it all covered without much thought put into the project and forget to add fresh ginger to a secondary.  Or I even blow off the use of a secondary fermenter when in fact I am experimenting with a new style and the secondary fermenter becomes necessary to eliminate particulates and emulsions.  I also need to be more attentive to conditioning in the keg.  I don't like to force carbonate my kegs.  I haven't had a good experience with that yet.  Conditioning the keg seems the best way to go, it just takes longer I think than bottle conditioning.  My experience so far anyway.  I've kegged about 8 batches now.  In fact, I have some keg work today.  I'm going to pull my Mocha Maryanne out of the kegeration unit and let it condition more.  I have a gallon of Eddie's Small Bier to put back in the kegeration unit and by time that is done, Mocha Maryanne will be conditioned better.  I hope.

So, I want to do a blog called "A Year of Craft Beer" or something like that where I drink a different craft beer every day for a year.  Basically, I'm going to drink a new beer everyday, within my means, and talk a little about it.  I will talk about the resources needed to discuss beer intelligently for a beginner like me.  So far I made one mistake in a purchase in a beer tasting kit which was poorly described on Amazon as a way for a beginner to learn beer tasting.  But it's just a box with paper bags in it to put over top a bunch of different beers with no real instruction on what to do when you taste the beer like smelling first, what to look for in color and carbonation and head, what flavors you initially taste and how to decipher them as well as flavors after you have swallowed it, etc...  Those are things that I need to work on.  This will give me a chance as a beginner to become more knowledgeable about beer varieties and what I like (the most important bit) as well as to hopefully inform my audience a bit about beer and how to judge it.  I will also tackle nutrition and fitness aspects involved with beer drinking.  I think it would be good to write or co-write an article about fitness and do some interviews with different beer judges, and brewers from around the country to find what they do or don't do to stay fit.

 I can do these articles on this blog since it has a following of sorts, OR I can easily though google start another.  If you are still reading this right now, I value your opinion.  What do you think would be best for me, as a guy who wants to put forth his brewing and learn learn learn!

So Here are some pics of the last beer I did with the collaboration of Donny Smith, Chris Simmons, and Joanie Countryman.  This first picture is Mocha Maryanne and Eddie's Small Bier.  They are first and second runnings from the same grains in the mash tun.  While Mocha Maryanne was boiling, I was mashing the same grain for Eddie's Small Bier.  These are out waiting to be bottled and kegged.

Because I didn't secondary ferment, I never added the fresh ginger like I had hoped and after thinking on several different methods on getting the ginger flavor into the beer at this very late point of the process I decided to make one gallon of tea with dried ginger and adding that to the racking bucket along with the different amounts of corn sugar to condition the beer in either bottles or kegs.
I basically just put a few ounces in a muslin bag and boiled on very low for about ten minutes.  It probably could have set longer as I'm not getting much ginger flavor in this batch.  Fresh Ginger in either the boil or secondary is much better!  But this is one example of me not giving my beer my "all" and trying to fix it at the end.  It's all a learning experience, and that is why I love it!

Hey everyone, I've reached my limit on looking at a screen and have run out of things to yap about.  It's great to be back!

Happy New Year!!!!!!!!!


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Three New Brews: Gluten Free Belgian Witbier, Mocha MaryAnn Choccy Porter, Eddie's Small Beer. Double Chilled

Happy Birthday Jerry Garcia!

Where to begin?  I've been kind of busy brewing the last few days.  I have been on a search for millet to roast for my Glluten Free Belgian witbier as millet takes on a look and taste of wheat in the gluten free beer world for the past week or so.  I spent a few days looking all around NE PHilly for millet.  No luck.  Off to Whole Foods on South Street.  $1.30 /lb.  Nice!  Since it was so cheap I got two whole pounds!  Actually, I didn't need a whole lot, just a little to roast and add to my beer for flavor and a little of that wheaty look to it, I hope.

Eventually I'll malt my own grains which entails soaking the grains (gluten free ones like, amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat, and millet), sprouting the grains, drying the grains, knocking off the sprouts, roasting the grains to specific darkness, and cracking them.  This will allow me to take advantage of the sugars that will be converted in the mash as well as the flavors and colors.  But for this beer I am supplying my own sugars with the sorghum malt extract and only need the wheat flavor and color.

So, what I did was rinse the millet 4 or 5 times in a pot and then put it all in my Stainless Steel frying pan.  I'm assuming that non stick is nasty for this and refuse to use that.  I put the pan on low around 200 degrees F and stirred the millet until it was mostly dry.  One pound of millet I moved over to my convection oven and the other I left in the pan to see what works better.  The convection oven worked great!  

I started the temps at around 350 for about half an hour on both.  I then raised it to 375 for 15 minutes in the oven and then to 450 in the oven for another 15 minutes.  The pan was more tricky.  It has hot spots and I had to keep stirring the millet.  I raised the temp off and on trying not to burn it.  A few times I got smoke and a pop corn smell, but not a burnt smell.  All in all, the oven cooked more evenly, but the pan would work if that is all you have.  Check out the pics below:

Most of the way through with the frying pan, you can see the unevenness in colors.
 Crappy pic.
 Not very good lighting on this pic. Let me try another spot.
 There, that's better!  You get an idea of the true color from this pic.
I only wanted a light roast.
 Compare this to the oven baked millet and you can see that it is more uneven.
I mixed them all together anyway.

I then took the millet to Ye Olde Blender and blended on the ice pulse setting.  It seemed to work the best.  I didn't want to powder it, but much of it did.  Oh well.  It went into a super fine mesh bag for the steeping part of the brewing for 3o minutes.  It worked fine.

{{The Cure on WXPN and a Gluten Free Belgian}}
(the Bleeding Gums Murphy Belge is finally starting to taste better)
(If you like Lifebuoy soap that is)

{{Squeeze- Pulling Mussels from a Shell}}
(mmmmm mussels)

Here I am cracking the millet.  I decided to go with just one pound.
I heat and pre-mix and heat all my sugar constituents in water, this time about a gallon.
I add these about 15 minutes left to the boil.
 The Belgian Witbier going into the primary.
Here I am batch sparging my Mocha MaryAnn Choccy Porter.

 Mocha MaryAnn boiling away at Wissinoming Brewing.
Eddie's Small Bier re-using the malt from Mocha MaryAnn.

{{Jimmy Cliff - The Guns of Brixton}}
(this album as well as this song is HOT!  I love it!  Great work from a reggae great!)

I went and added my yeast to this wort from before not thinking anything bad of all the gas it expelled when I first opened it.  After thinking on it for a bit I decided not to use it on my Mocha MaryAnn for it might be spoiled, so I used it on the Eddie's Small Bier instead as I didn't put a lot of money into this small batch.  In the middle of the MaryAnn mash I ran to Barry's Homebrew to get more WhiteLabs English ale yeasties.
All three beers had to be chilled with both my immersion chiller and an ice bath because the tap water is at 80F...


Belgian Witbier

        1 lb. roasted millet steep
60    3.3 lb. Sorghum syrup, briess
        1.o oz. hallertau
10    8.0 oz. Lactose 
        6.0 oz. maltodextrin
        1.0 lb. demerara sugar
        1.25 lb. organge blossum, sage buckwheat blossum, white clover honey mix
        1.0 oz. sweet orange peel
        1.0 oz. dried ginger root
        1.0 oz. hallertau
Danstar Nottingham yeast.
OG= 1.062

Mocha MaryAnn Choccy Porter

2.0 lb. Briess 6 row
6.0 lb. Maris Otter
1.0 lb. Munich
0.5 lb. Black Patent
0.5 lb. Chocolate
0.5 lb. Roasted

60     1.0 oz.  Northern Brewer
30      0.5 oz. Kent goldings
10     whirfloc tab
         2.0 oz. Demerara sugar
         6.0 oz. Dark Molasses
5       0.5 oz. Kent Goldings

2x White Labs English Ale yeast

OG= 1.066

Secondary ferment:  4.0 oz. chocolate nibs, 3.0 oz. Fresh ginger

Eddie's Small Bier

Steep Mocha MaryAnn's leftover grains in 3gal.150 F H2O with one teaspoon Amylase 60 min.
2x batch sparge with 1.o gallon 165 F H2O
2x batch sparge with 1.0 gallon  73 F H2O ...............**too much h2o**

Mixed my sugars in 1.0 gal hot h2o ..............****too much****  6.75 gallon beer yeild

60   1.0 oz. cascade hops
40    8.0 oz. Demerara
        3.0 oz. Lactose
        3.0 oz. maltodextrin
        0.5 oz. Cascade
5      0.5 oz. cascade

OG = 1.024  (6.75 gallons beer)

1.5 Gallons set aside for yeast starters.

Canoe Trip on the Oswego

Sunday was a such a nice day!  I'm so glad that my dad and I coordinated a canoe trip on the Oswego River with Wade, his family, Joey G, and Lenka.  Perfect weather, good times, lots of fun.

We decided to rent out canoes from Mick's Canoe Rental in Chatsworth.  The cost per canoe was 55 bucks, not too bad and everything went smoothly on their part.  I highly recommend them.  Unfortunately Bel Haven no longer rents canoes, I really liked those guys!  I'm sure they are still in business with their paddlesports store so I will stop by and see them sometime soon. 

Some pics:
Do you like the cold camera effect?  I left the camera in the cooler. 
Pretty Cool.
 Wendy, Cork, and Lenka.
Cold Camera Lunch.
 Cold Camera Sean and Shelby.
 Normal Camera.
Wade, Sean, Cork, Shelby, Lenka and Wendy.
Joey on Camera.
 Wade, Sean, Joey, Lenka, Shelbmeister, and Wendell.
Cork on Camera.
 "Joe hit every log there was!" -Shelby
 Nice day!
 Awesome hat!

 My Hat is Better.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

We Won! First Place 2012 Wooden Boat Festival, Toms River, NJ

Sextant Pale Ale; Adventures in Gluten Free Chestnut Ale.

Here are just some pics for now of the bottling process as I need to get them up to get them on my Linked In account (Sean Null)

I will detail the beer later, but know this, IT IS AMAZING!

I modeled it after a Belgian Wheat and it truly is one of the best tasting Gluten Free beers (it truly is a beer, except there is no barley) that I have tasted so far.  I am VERY happy about the results!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Toms River Seaport Boat Show Tomorrow

Globby in the sun.
Unforgiving and wet.
Missed a spot in the sun's glare.
Cracks like the desert. 
Unforgiving and wet.
Missed a spot.
Globby in the sun.
Missed a spot.
Unforgiving and wet.
Can't make a mistake, not now.
Multiply by 3 and see.
What I have lived the last two weeks.
Uber Beautiful and protective.

Worth it.

For a grippy footing on the inside of the canoe I varnished, then spread out sugar.  Today I hosed the sugar away wiped it down a bit. Hope it is dry enough and doesn't smooth out.  Maybe I should have let it go longer?

Keeps you on your toes.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Free Dogfish Head Beer! Hire ME!!!!

So like last Wednesday Dogfish Head Brewery, my favorite for many reasons, put a video on YouTube and their site asking for people to come work for them:

So I have been out and about on the town here in Philly on all the main highways and byways with my resume hoping to drum up support and to hopefully run into Sam or one of the crew at DFH brewery and maybe score a little free DFH along the way.

Thursday was my first day out.  I was a newbie and had to put on a hard face because the creepy dude behind the tree (if you right click on the pic and hit view picture, it will zoom in and you can see the devious look in his eye and his sinister smile)  was eyeing my cool sign, or so I thought!  Dude was after my empty DFH six pack holder that I had hoped to score some 60 minute IPA with!

I was distraught!  Disillusioned! More cars drove by without any of the DFH crew around.  I mean I was just off of I-95, someone had to drive by that worked there!

 My six pack holder gone, it was 93 degrees out and no one offered me a cold DFH.  Someone offered me a PBR and I said that I would rather have a warm, half full, day old Indian Brown Ale with a cigarette butt floating in it than drink that filth.  They understood and proceeded to tell me that the PBR was only to use as their emergency fire extinguisher for their K car and gave me a fin to hold me over.
 Having regained my faith in humanity after being accosted by a would be DFH bandit with the kindness of the K Car crew I picked up my sign, stood tall and began to tell my story to anyone who would listen.  Well, actually, my mom drove by and took this picture and asked me if I wanted to go to dinner at the Grey Lodge where she saw a bottle of Namaste, my favorite DFH beer!  My mom loves me!  Thanks MOM!
 While at the Grey Lodge My Mom and publican Scoats helped me with my resume.  Scoats told me that a resume needed to grow and evolve and be indicative of the job seekers adaptability and also the fact that the video DFH was putting out exclaimed FREE beer and that I should add that to both sides of my resume.  My mom agreed.  I got heckled a few times for being a hippy.  I asked if the I<3 recycling was a bit much and my mom said " gives Dogfish Head insight into your keen awareness of environmental stewardship and cost saving frugality.  Leave it"

Day two, Friday.  Another high traffic area just off of I-95.  Not much luck. 

 Just more hecking.  "you want DFH beer and you don't even have a DFH six pack holder!"  "Dominion Baltic Porter!  You're DAFT!" 
 ....But someone stole it!
 "Porter this!"
Can you believe that?  Heckled and then a cop reads my sign and kicks me off the corner!  He did so nicely though and told me that I had to fold the sign so that the police can't read it.  Old panhandler trick.
 The guys at the Beer Outlet were cool enough to let me stand there for the rest of the afternoon.  They said that freaks usually bring in more customers and gave me an empty 16oz. Straub bottle for my efforts!  Score!  Homebrewers dream!  Pounder bottles!  Here is a closer look at my new resume!
 I must have had a good day because it was the first time EVER that I was able to open a macaroni box according to the instructions on the top of the side of the box!  I'm on a roll!
 Saturday on exhibit at the Art Museum.
Like any good street corner vendor/panhandler my finger is deep within the caverns of my nasal passages.

 I've only seen the pretzel guy on my previous street corner do this.
He's my hero!
They say one should never meet their hero as they will be disappointed.
 "Lower your arms!" they all said as they ran away from me.
...Rocky drinks Dogfish Head!!!

 Dogfish Head, Hire Me!
 I make my Mom proud!
There's more to come so...
...stay tuned on this same beer channel, same beer time!