Monday, November 29, 2010

Brewmasters: Portamarillo and Beervana

On Mondays episode of Brewmasters, Sam worked with a brewery in New Zealand to come up with a beer that included ingredients native to New Zealand.

They started with a porter and added roasted Tamarillos that were smoked with wood from New Zealand trees. Half of the fruit that was included in the recipe was roasted and the other half was fresh. The beer was debuted at Beervana, a large beer event in New Zealand that included some social events that I would love to see on a smaller scale locally.

The first event was the "Mash-in" where New Zealand brewers gathered and sampled each others recipes. I think it would be great to get all the local home brewers together just to sample what others were producing. This event would not have to be large, but we would have to find a restaurant or meeting room that would allow us to bring your own keg (BYOK).

The second event was the Beer vs Wine dinner. This involved a six course meal and each dish was paired with a wine and a beer. Once diners try both the beer and wine, they would fill out a scorecard. Results are tabulated and announced at the end of the dinner. Again this is a great idea and we could easily pit a brewery against a winery; Say Knoxville's Calhouns Brewery vs Knoxville's Blue Slip Winery?

Would you attend this event? Let us know what you think in the comments..

Brewmasters: Punkin

Tonight, another new episode of Brewmasters aired on Discovery channel. This episode covered two beers; Punkin which was Sams fourth recipe as a home brewer and includes pumpkin, nutmeg, and allspice. The second brew was called Portamarillo and it is a porter that includes Tamarillo fruit from New Zealand. I will cover this beer in a separate post.

At the factory they started construction to increase the amount of beer they produce and had a small disaster when thet received a shipment of twist off beer bottles from the glass supplier. Since Dogfish Head does not use twist off bottle caps, they had to quarantine a number of pallets of beer so they did not ship the defective bottles to customers.

Once Sam returned home from New Zealand, he decided that he would make the defective beer "Paycheck Cases" instead of dumping all of it out. Thats right, if you work at Dogfish Head not only do you get a paycheck but you get to take home a case of beer! I wonder if they have and opening for a newbie Brewmaster?

Brewmasters: Chicha

On Sundays episode of Brewmasters we followed Sam from Dogfish Head Craft Ales to Puru where we learned the brew he was making was called Chicha (pronounced chee-cha).

It is mainly a corn based brew and unlike malted barley, it is unable to created the enzyme, called amalyze, needed to breakdown starch. This enzyme is prevalent in one source, human saliva. So the workers at Dogfish Head got tested and then proceeded to grind 40 pounds of corn with their teeth. Since this seems unsanitary to you and I; Sam did mention that this mash produces the wort which is then boiled so as to kill any bacteria from the chewing. The Chicha beer also contained cinnamon and a some other herbs Sam had to ship in from Puru.

I do not know about you, but I would hesitate a little before drinking a brew that came from someones mouth.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Why will my kegs not hold pressure?

The keezer is built and I currently have three kegs in it filled with pumpkin ale, a really good session beer, and some hard cider. I was having issues at first as the cider came out as foam, the pumpkin ale keg would not stay sealed, and the session beer was perfect until it ran out of CO2.

I had the Brewmaster and Yeast Wrangler over for a brew day and let them take a look at it. I thought I was out of CO2 due to a valve or keg leaking. After about 15 minutes we found that I did not have it hooked up properly. Always remember to have a check valve coming out of the regulator, but do not put a check valve on the CO2 line into the manifold / distribution block.

This means you will most likely need this adapter which is sold as an accessory for the Blichmann BeerGun.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Keezer Build

I got a really good deal on a chest freezer around Columbus Day, and am converting it to a keezer. It is a 7.2 cu. ft. Frigidaire model (FFFC07M2KW). It was white until the wife and I painted it with 2 cans of black appliance paint. I also built a stand for it to sit on with casters.

I added a strip of chalkboard paint to the lid; That way I can write out what is on tap. Here are two almost finished photos:

All that is left is to built the collar and install four taps.

BrewMasters and Hoppy Fresh Beats

So last night was the premier of BrewMasters on Discovery channel. The show follows Sam Calagione, Bryan Selders (Dogfish Head lead brewer), and Floris Delee (Dogfish Head Brewmaster) as they create custom themed brews.

This episode had the Dogfish team creating a brew to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Miles Davis' "Bitches Brew" album. They finished with an African Taj beer and mixed it with an Imperial Stout in a 25/75 ratio. The final ABV was 9%; which means we will never see it in here unless it is at a liquor store as Tennessee considers anything over 6% to be liquor.

Also, last night it was revealed that Sam and Bryan had been cutting some Beer Geek Hip-Hop since 2003; The name of the band is The Pain Relievaz. The song they wrote about the "Bitches Brew" was really good, as well as "Pinchin Pennies" which covers the challenge of always having the best brew tools.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Beer in the Media

Barley, water, hops and yeast might not sound like a recipe for success, but to the beer connoisseur, the fine balance of those four ingredients is the stuff of legend. Last Sunday, (Nov. 14) on PlanetGreen, there was an episode of HowStuffWorks that covered beer.

It was a really informative show and will re-air on November 23 (check local listing for time). They talked to Charlie Papazian (Author), Sam Calagione (President of Dogfish Head Craft Ales), and Ken Grossman (Founder of Sierra Nevada Brewing) and covered a lot of basics.

Beer Dinner = Good Times!

For the past couple years, Tabitha and I have been regularly attending the most wonderfully awesome beer tasting dinners hosted by one of our favorite local restaurants: Sunspot. These delightful dinners happen the second or third Monday of the month and feature five incredible courses paired with five great beers for in the $40-45 range. The beers all come from a single craft brewery (although last month was the first ever "collaborative" beer dinner - did I say awesome already?), with examples like Terrapin, Sweetwater, New Belgium, North Coast, Sam Adams, Sierra Nevada, Yazoo, Starr Hill... the list is only limited by the distribution (which, in TN, sadly is limited - but they do quite well nonetheless).

Yesterday we dined a Sweetwater-themed dinner with Rocket Scientists AJ, Vikki, Les, Ann, and John, and some other good friends. As usual, Chef Brandon rocked an incredible menu with each course pairing perfectly with the beers. My favorite was the Sweetwater Blue paired with duck pastrami topped pickled cabbage on a rye crostini biscuit surrounded by tomato dill aioli. Now Blue (or any fruit-flavored beer, really) isn't at the top my list, but it is a solid beer, and the blueberry flavored wheat really balanced well against the perfectly cooked meatyness of the duck and the sweet pickeled onions and cabbage, and the dill gave it a great herbal savor. Yum. Before I knew it I had more more blue in me than a smurf. It takes a great chef to take a beer that I'm not super crazy about and make it my favorite pairing of the night.

The best part for a beer lover about these beer dinners is the chance to try beers new to the Knoxville market and beers that aren't available around here yet. Out of the five beers (or sometimes six if it's a really awesome brewery and they throw in a bonus brew!) typically one or two are the mainstay or flagship labels, and the other 2-4 are seasonals and cool new beer. There have even been times when a beer that isn't sellable in TN due to our crazy liquor laws was trucked in straight from the brewery to our table. How great is that? Some highlights that stuck in mind included Terrapin Hopsicutioner, Big Hoppy Monster and Gamma Ray, New Belgium's Tripel and Dubbel, Sierra Nevada Celebration and Big Foot, and Pranqster and Brother Thelonius from North Coast.

So, this time next month be on the lookout for the next great beer dining experience in Knoxville. I also encourage everyone reading to check out what their local restaurants are doing with craft breweries and get excited about great beer!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

National Homebrew Day

The first Saturday in November is traditionally National Learn to Homebrew Day.
Learn to Homebrew Day (formerly known as Teach a Friend to Homebrew Day) was established by the American Homebrewers Association (AHA) in 1999 to enable people interested in beer and homebrewing to learn how to brew. [...] Homebrewers around the world are encouraged to learn how to brew or teach someone how to brew.
This is an opportunity for homebrewers everywhere to share a great hobby with new (or old) friends. There's all kinds of information on the AHA website detailing how to participate.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Cooking With Emeril - Homebrewing

If you are a Sirius/XM subscriber then you probably know Martha Stewart has a channel. But what I did not know is on Tuesdays and Thursdays Emeril Lagasse has an hour long show called "Cooking with Emeril".

Today Emeril is talking with Sixpoint Craft Ales on how to homebrew; The show runs from 11am - 12pm.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Keg of Links

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Keg of Links: More Oktoberfest and Pumpkins

Thankfully, its still that time of year, when we can find Oktoberfest and Pumpkin beers everywhere across the Fermentowebs.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Keg of Links: Food and Drink Edition

I need this poster.

    Sunday, September 26, 2010

    Keg of Links

    Hello all, we're here to bring you a special Keg of Links for your clicking pleasure.

    Monday, September 20, 2010

    Keg of Links: Oktoberfest and Bad Homebrew Advice

    The Mad Fermentationist has a great article today on bad homebrew shop advice.  My personal favorite was "Liquid yeast doesn't need a stater unless you are brewing a barleywine."
    I don't know if these guys stopped reading brewing books in 1987, or if they've just drank a few too many homebrews over the last few decades. It seems like if this was your job and your passion you should put a bit more effort into staying on top of the latest trends, techniques, and ingredients.  The better the advice is you give, the more brewing success people will have, and the more repeat brewers/business you will create.
    The Big Picture has 40 photos from Oktoberfest in Munich.
    On Saturday, September 18th, with the tapping of the first keg by Munich Mayor Christian Ude and a cry of "O'zapft is!", Oktoberfest 2010 officially started in Munich, Germany. While this year marks the 177th Oktoberfest to be held, 2010 is the 200th anniversary of the very first Oktoberfest in 1810 (some years were missed due to war or cholera outbreaks). The Oktoberfest tradition started in 1810 to celebrate the October 12th marriage of Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig to Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. The citizens of Munich were invited to join in the festivities which were held over five days on the fields in front of the city gates. This year, festivities will run until October 4, 2010. Collected here are a few images from this opening weekend.
    This only makes me look forward to our 10 gallons of Märzen beer, given that it has about 10-12 weeks left in the lagering fridge.

    Sunday, September 19, 2010

    Keg of Links: Back from the Dead Edition

    Hello all, I'm emerging out from under a rock after a two-week hiatus to bring you the best beer links from around the fermento-nets for your clicking pleasure.

    Tuesday, September 7, 2010

    Keg of Links

    More beer and homebrewing links for your clicking pleasure:

    Monday, September 6, 2010

    Keg of Links

    At the end of this fine brew day, as we retire the happy wort into its primary fermenters for a three-month rest, I provide these links for your clicking pleasure.

    Oktoberfest Brew Day

    Today, we're brewing ten gallons of Oktoberfest Lager from Northern Brewer's all-grain kit.  Some slacker (read: me) forgot to create a starter for the yeast, so we'll be pitching the massive number of yeast packs (five) that I proofed earlier in the week.

    We started out by crushing the grain for the mash tun:
    • 10-lbs. German Pilsner Malt
    • 10-lbs German Munich Malt
    • 2-lbs German Dark Munich Malt
    • 1-lb Weyermann Caramunich II
    We infused the grain with six gallons of 175°F water from the hot liquor tank and gave it sixty-minute rest at 152°F.
    Next, we added 3 gallons of strike water (boiling) bringing the mash tun up to 175°F for a 10-minute mashout.  This is where things went downhill.  The drain on the mash tun clogged, which we valiantly overcame by turning our boil kettle into a mash tun and draining the grain from there into a number of buckets. We finished with a 7-gallon, 180°F batch sparge for a total 14 gallon initial boil.

    Of course, there are hops to be had: two ounces of tasty, tasty Hallertau in the boil for sixty minutes (plus a few extra to bring the total volume under 10 gallons.)

    Finishing up we added a teaspoon of yeast nutrient, ran it through the chiller, divided it into two sanitzed buckets, and let it sit in the lagering fridge at about 50-55°F for a few weeks.  We'll move it over into a secondary fermenter and let it hang out in the cooler for a total of three months.

    Photos after the break ...

    Thursday, September 2, 2010

    Keg of Links


    I do not like it in
    I do not like it in

    I do not like them when they're wet
    I do not like how slippery they get

    I do not like it when they shatter
    I hate to clean the mess that scatters

    I do not like them in my wort
    If one breaks there the wort is dirt.
    Not to mention - you could get hurt!

    Two things broke yesterday. The first was a standard, $6 floating thermometer. I set it in the sink to wash it, and the tip gently shattered. After a brief flash of happiness (when I realized that the nightmare that is cleaning broken glass wouldn't happen this time -- I could wash the few tiny pieces down the drain) I realized something else broke as well: my will to be cheap.

    Now let me explain. I made my first homebrew when I was 19. I dabbled until going full-bore four or five years ago. My attitude towards equipment has always been dictated by the practicality of limited resources: get the cheapest equipment that gets the job done.

    Over the last 5 years, I have owned 4 floating thermometers, 2 "lab" thermometers, and 2 hydrometers. All but one of the hydrometers have died tragic deaths, often ending in explosions of glass shards. And I'm sure that the surviving hydrometer's days are numbered.

    So when the last glass thermometer I owned broke the other day, I decided it would be the last glass thermometer.

    My new philosophy is simple: get the cheapest equipment that you can make work for the longest time possible. Wake up and realize nothing is going to last forever. And if it's essentially a tool that's made out of glass, it will break sooner rather than later. Do the math and figure out how long it must last to make it money well spent. And when choosing your brewing equipment, don't buy anything that will turn into shrapnel when its time is up.

    My new instant-read digital thermometer should be here in a couple days.

    Wednesday, September 1, 2010

    Oktoberfest Smack Packs: It's Alive!

    So, yeah: all four yeast packages proofed.  There are all alive.  All four.  I was pretty surprised given the recent warm weather.  It looks like there will be Oktoberfest brewing this weekend.

    For your clicking pleasure:
    I'm off to find something to put a giant yeast starter in.

    Tuesday, August 31, 2010

    Oktoberfest Smack Packs

    Given the warm weather, the RocketScience brew team has had yeast shipping problems.  Lager yeast has proven itself more sensitive to the warm weather, which has consistently turned 100% of our live lager yeast into dead lager yeast despite any number of ice packs that get sent along for the ride.  Our excursion into lagering has been a learning experience for us, as we've never had problems with ale yeast even during the warmest weather.

    We're trying a new tactic.  This weekend, we're planning to brew a bunch of uncrushed grain into ten gallons of Märzen/Oktoberfest wort.  To compensate for potentially dead yeast, we had five packs of Wyeast 2633 - Octoberfest Lager Blend rush shipped a few days ago.  I pulled the activator packs out of the fridge and have just broken the internal yeast nutrient pouches. I'm letting the yeast proof at room temperature for a few days to see which are still alive.

    I figure: at least one of those suckers must have survived.   If they all prove viable, they'll be divided between two five-gallon fermenting buckets.  If only some of them are still kicking, they'll contribute to a yeast starter (lagers should be pitched with more yeast than ales.) If none of them survive, we're brewing a porter or a brown ale and holding out for lagers until it gets cooler.

    Further news as events warrant.

    Monday, August 30, 2010

    Miller/Coors Light Home Draft Keg for Homebrew?

    A friend is investigating the Home Draft Keg.
    I purchased the Coors Light Home Draft Keg with the hopes of reusing it with home brew. First impression is that is not possible, they have completely incased the CO2 canister in plastic such that it is not replaceable. But I still have to empty the keg before I can do more testing.
    It's good that he is taking one for the team.  Meanwhile, if you're a fan of that style of American lager, check out an Associated Content's review.  There is some discussion of these on the HomebrewTalk forums and a whole forum dealing with them otherwise.

    Keg of Links

    Several updates today from around the Fermento-nets:

      Sunday, August 29, 2010

      The Jamil Show - Epic Pale Ale

      The Jamil Show updated today, with a new podcast where they take on the challenge of cloning Epic Brewing Company's Epic Pale Ale.  This is the first time they've tried cloning a beer from New Zealand.

      For brewers that don't know Jamil Zainasheff, first: where have you been?  Second, check out his website or his books. Each week, this podcasts discusses a good beer and attempts to clone it.  I've learned a lot from it.  Tune in and check it out.

      Saturday, August 28, 2010

      RocketScience Brewing Launch!

      Welcome to RocketScience Brewing!

      We're a bunch of homebrewers who have had a great time fun making beer since our first Brown Ale in March of 2000. Some beers have been good, some have exploded and launched themselves all over our kitchen. We've progressed from simple malt extract brewing to our own all-grain setup, and we're always looking for ways to brew better beer.

      We look forward to posting what we can learn and hearing your feedback. Please feel free to contact us via email, Twitter, or carrier pigeon with suggestions, reactions, or issues with the site.