If yeast ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy

I came across a 2012 article posted by the American Academy of Microbiology. It is an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) on yeast titled, If the Yeast ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. And, far from being written in obfuscating sciency prose, it is written down-to-earth language even I can understand. This is not to say that it is not science-based.

FAQ reports [by the American Academy of Microbiology] are based on the deliberations of 15-20 expert scientists who gather for a day to develop science-based answers to questions the public might have about topics in microbiology. The reports are reviewed by all participants, and by outside experts, and every effort is made to ensure that the information is accurate and complete.

It is chockablock full of good information on brewers yeast, party because the Pope of Foam, Charles Bamforth, Ph.D., D.Sc. of University of California Davis Department of Food Science and Technology; Chris White, Ph.D., of White Labs; and Katherine Smart, Ph.D. of SABMiller are on the steering committee.

Here is the link to the PDF: http://academy.asm.org/images/stories/documents/ColloquiaDoc/faq_beer.pdf

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Hops chart

Put me in coach I’m ready to play.

I just added a link to Brew Your Owns hops chart. If your looking for a description of a certain type of hop or want to know what you might use as a substitute start with their chart

English: hops in glass

Hops give beer that earthy, piney, cirtrusy or grassy flavor. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Speed Brewing Your Six-Pack of Beer

At DFH Rehoboth Brew & Eats. Cheers.

Brew one in less than an hour. Cheers.

James Spencer and Steve Wilkes must be the nicest guys on the web. One of these days I would love to meet them. Their Basic Brewing website and (mostly James but more than occasionally Steve) podcasts are fun and informative. I really recommend the podcasts on toxicology of home brewing.

In this video they show how to brew an India Pale Ale in less than an hour (~45 minutes, not counting fermenting and bottling time). This technique will work fine for a pale ale (less hops) or a blonde (less malt and less hops).

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Breaking News: Hundreds Feared Dead In Coors Light Party Train Crash

From the Onion, America’s Finest News Source. Where else?

According sources quoted by the Onion, “The frost-powered train toppled over, killing hundreds of partiers on its way to deliver ice-cold refreshment to a boring, overheated barbeque.”

And the survey says…

The good folks at the American Homebrewers Association (AHA) released “results of a first-ever nationwide homebrewer survey today, a break-down of demographics, brewing habits and shopping behaviors of American homebrewers.”

Their media release says:

More than 1 Million Homebrewers Brew 2 Million Barrels Yearly 

According to the survey, there are an estimated 1.2 million homebrewers in the United States, two-thirds of whom began brewing in 2005 or later.

“The homebrewing community is in every corner of the country and highly engaged in this hobby,” said Gary Glass, director, American Homebrewers Association. “From the amount of money spent on supplies to the sheer number of homebrewers, it’s clear this is a growing trend and people are incredibly interested in learning about and making their own brews at home.

Survey results include :

  • Demographics: The average homebrewer is 40 years old, with most (60 percent) falling between 30 and 49 years old. The majority of homebrewers are married or in a domestic partnership (78 percent), have a college degree or some form of higher education (69 percent), and are highly affluent-nearly 60 percent of all homebrewers have household incomes of $75,000 or more.
  • Location: Homebrewers are fairly evenly spread across the country, with the slight plurality congregated in the West (31 percent), followed by the South (26 percent), Midwest (23 percent) and the fewest in the Northeast (17 percent).
  • Production: In terms of brew production, homebrewers mainly stick to beer—60 percent of respondents only brew beer at home, compared to wine, mead or cider. AHA members and people affiliated with the AHA on average brewed nearly 10 batches of beer per year, at 7 gallons a batch, which is 15 percent more batches and nearly 30 percent more volume than homebrewers who were not affiliated with the AHA. Collectively, homebrewers produce more than 2 million barrels of brew a year, which represents a small but sizeable portion (1 percent) of total U.S. production.
  • Retail: Nearly all homebrewers (95 percent) shop in two local homebrew stores eight or nine times a year, while a majority (80 percent) also shops in three online stores five times a year. On average, homebrewers spend $800 a year—about $460 on general supplies and ingredients, and $330 on major equipment.

The survey was completed by more than 18,000 homebrewers via an online survey from July 30 to September 3, 2013. Of the respondents, 65 percent were members of the AHA, and 35 percent were unaffiliated homebrewers.

This Week in BrewZasters: MyBrewCo and the Accidental IPA (on purpose)

This past week I have had some good exchanges with Michael, the designer of the MyBrewCo.com website. Being a typical male, after reading in Brew Your Own (BYO) magazine that MyBrewCo existed, I jumped in and set up my own “Batch-22 Brewery (tagline: There’s Always a Batch). After I set up the Batch-22 Brewery, I posted my observations on this site (here) and Michael had responded to those (see the comments).

An Unexpected IPA. It was supposed to be an American Pale Ale.

An Unexpected IPA. It was supposed to be an American Pale Ale.

Thinking there was no time like the present to start tracking my brewing online, I tried uploading an XML file for the Accidental IPA that was exported from my BeerSmith program. This led to an error message that the recipe didn’t meet the database’s needs.  Databases are notoriously literal and don’t handle human inconsistencies well. (Michael says the standard procedure for standards is to deviate slightly from the standard.) In the end, I created the recipe on the website by picking ingredients from its drop-down menus. (Note: now when you upload a recipe the site tells you that your “File has been uploaded. We’ll process the file and let you know if the recipes need repairing. You can navigate away from this page.”)

Brewing the Accidental IPA on purpose

As you may recall, the first version Accidental IPA was supposed to be an an American pale ale from the book, “Brewing Classic Styles: 80 Winning Recipes Anyone Can Brew” by Jamil Zainasheff and John Palmer. However the original gravity was higher than normal due to some alignment of things* that weren’t there before in my brewing that affected the efficiency of the brew session (apologies for the awkwardness of the sentence).  More sugars in the wort means more food for the yeast which gives the beer more alcohol in the end.

Yesterday, the plan was to brew the Accidental IPA on purpose. As always, I got out the trusty Brewer’s Logbook from BasicBrewing.com for my notes–paper and pencil really help capture stuff as it’s happening. I hit the numbers that the beer needed: 12.5 gallons of 1.057 wort pre-boil and 9.5 (I wanted 10) gallons of 1.072 wort into the fermenters.

One reason for notes is that I follow Tasty McDole’s method of mashing, in that I don’t sweat trying to calculate the exact strike water amount (at 1.25 quart/1 pound of grain), but simply put in 10 gallons and then fly sparge (rinse) the grains. Keeping track of the strike water temps for different size grain bills for 10 gallons of water becomes important to put in your notes, if you want to replicate the results.

I also went to MyBrewCo.com and set up a “Brew Job.” (You may set up a Brew Job only if you are registered as a “Brewery.”) I picked my recipe, named it On Purpose IPA, picked the mash schedule from the Mash Template (Infusion, Mash Out, Fly Spare, Medium [body])**, the Brewing Method (all-grain), and a few other details and told the program to “Create” the Brew Job. The program then gives you an overview of the job, including the beer’s profile (tachometer-style dials indicate the IBUs, the predicted original gravity, final gravity, ABV, and color***).  Above the dials are tabs relating to the batch: Job, Brew Day, Mashing*, Schedule, equipment, Fermentable, Hop, Miscellaneous, Yeast, Actuals (actual volumes of wort produced), Readings, Notes, Carbonation, and Batch Split.

After the instructions, the “Readings” tab is probably the most beneficial/important. It is here you add a “Reading Type” (Gravity or Temperature). Within the drop-down menu of the Temperature choice you will find: “Ambient, Grain, Mash-In, Rest, Mash-Out, Boil, Into Fermenter, Pitch, Primary, Secondary, Container, Serving.” What was missing, for me, was Strike Water temperature****.  I track the strike water temperature so that I can duplicate (or, more often, tweak it up or down because the mash temp was off) the result next time. I would like to see the strike water temperature in there (maybe it is and I missed it). I would also like to see the mash temperature listed in the recipe–mash temp controls the body of the beer. (for more on mash temperature and the body of the beer, see Brad Smith’s write-up here.)

Brewing is a craft–a mixture of art and science. You may think of brewing as I do, a simple process of making a porridge, saving the liquid and tossing out the grainy bits, boiling, cooling, and fermenting. But as you get better and acquire more knowledge, you consider more and more steps/requirements–and there are lots of those. MyBrewCo tries to help you track and manage the stuff involved in making consistently good beer, while trying to be different/better than other online brewing sites such as BrewToad.com. I wish Michael luck in this and will continue to help in dialing in the process.

About MyBrewCo.com

The MyBrewCo website says it is designed to, “Manage your brewing online.” You can:

  • “Create and upload Recipes”.
  • “Convert Recipes between brewing methods, unit of measures and automatically scale to equipment”.
  • “Let the system manage your efficiency and automatically scale recipes”.
  • “Manage recipe versions, copy and modify any recipe in the database”.
  • Create “An online shopping list, add custom items or let the system populate when a job is created”.
  • “Use our calendar or plug your brewing schedule into your favorite application using the internet calendar”.
  • “Use our online shopping list, add custom items or let the system populate when Use our online shopping list, add custom items or let the system populate when” you are ready to do so.
  • “Manage Brew Jobs, view recipe and instructions”.
  • “Record brew day statistics for analysis.”
  • “Track efficiencies between equipment profiles”.
  • “Record gravity readings and track your beer’s fermentation”.

*Perhaps my grain grinder has the perfect alignment of its teeth so it gives the perfect crush or switching from brewing in a bag (BiAB) to fly sparging or something else made the mash efficiency go up.

**The choice of the Mash Template is quite important. On my first attempt I wasn’t paying close attention and missed this selection and the first choice in the queue was chosen by default. This would normally not be a big deal, you would go to where you could edit the mash schedule and change it. The only change allowed after the program creates the Brew Job is to change the name of the mash; the temperatures, times, and steps cannot be altered. You will need to delete the Brew Job and reenter the data.

***The color that the program gives is a 10 SRM and the beer is probably a 4.0-5.5 SRM.

****The rule of thumb is to heat the strike water 10F more than the mash temperature desired due to the cooling provided by the grain (at 1.25 quarts of water per 1 pound of grain).

Good people drink good beer

Good people drink good beer – Hunter S. Thompson

This is one of those “good news, bad news” sorts of things. The good news is that the number of craft breweries in the United States has hit a 125-year high,  and mega-breweries continue to lose market share. The bad new is the consumption of beer (and beer-like substances) is dropping. (see graph at bottom of post)

Still California is part of the boom, according to beerinsight.com; California “saw a full 43 openings recently: 27 microbreweries, 11 brewpubs and 5 contract breweries.”

The California Craft Brewers Association says California’s craft breweries produced “more craft beer than any other state, brewing more than 2.4 million barrels (32 gallons per barrel),” meaning that “one in five craft beers brewed in the United States” is produced in California. Also, “California has more craft breweries and had more breweries open in 2012 (56) than any other state.” What can I tell you? We Californians are good people and we like good beer.

Beer trend 2000-2011 for total industry shipments. (All figures in Bbls-000. Source: http://www.beerinsights.com/popups/trendshipments.html)

Observations from the 16th Northern California Homebewers’ Festival

Neither rain, nor lightning, nor thunder will keep NCHF attendees from their appointed brews!

This was 2013’s theme and graphic for NCHF 16.

What the MKM booth was serving

What the MKM booth was serving

One year ago, the Northern California Homebrewers Festival (NCHF) was held during a hot spell. (You can read about that here) Temperatures were in the 90s. So, our club, the Malt Konocti Mashers planned for heat. None of MKM’s beers was bigger than 7.5% ABV.

What we got was this: “Showers likely (for Saturday, September 21, 2013), with thunderstorms also possible after 2pm. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 65. South southeast wind around 11 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New rainfall amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible.”

Almost on cue, the heavens opened up around two in the afternoon with lightning crackling very close to our location at the Lake Francis RV Resort in Dobbins, California.

Heck, we like water (lightning, not so much). Beer is mostly water, so we just kept on tasting great beers and eating great food.

Malt Konocti Mashers booth before the heavens unleashed

Malt Konocti Mashers booth before the heavens unleashed

Malt Konocti Mashers of Lake County banner

Malt Konocti Mashers of Lake County banner

Another view of the MKM booth as the serving day begins

Another view of the MKM booth as the serving day begins

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View on the way to the NCHF registration booth.

The registration line to pick up the wristband and tasting glass.

The registration line to pick up the wristband and tasting glass.

DOZE Spacelab with Dr. Who's TARDIS on the right.  This year's theme was "Space: The Beer Frontier."

DOZE Spacelab with Dr. Who’s TARDIS on the right. This year’s theme was “Space: The Beer Frontier.”

View of the booths on the grassy area at Lake Frances in Dobbins, CA

View of the booths on the grassy area at Lake Frances RV Resort in Dobbins, CA

DOZE's Spacelab with TARDIS booth on right.

DOZE’s Spacelab with TARDIS booth on right.

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Worts of Wisdom booth in background

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In case you missed it, Placerville Un.. Brewing Society is, wait for it, PUBS.

DSC08977Next year the NCHF 17 theme will be “Go West Young Brewer.” If you are interested in going in 2014, check out the NCHF website and get on their mailing list. Though this year’s festival organizers allowed 100 more people to attend, the event sold out in less than 2 hours.

Yes, kilts were there.

Yes, kilts were there.

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Flying Saucer courtesy of the Chico Home Brew Club, which brought enough homebrew for all 600+ in attendance at NCHF. Notice drops of rain on the surface of the saucer. Such details qualify as foreshadowing.

Flying Saucer courtesy of the Chico Home Brew Club, which brought enough homebrew for all 600+ in attendance at NCHF. Notice drops of rain on the surface of the saucer. Such details qualify as foreshadowing.

And, then, the heavens opened up.

And, then, the heavens opened up.

I wondered if one of the brew kettles might be used as a flotation device.

I wondered if one of the brew kettles might be used as a flotation device.

It continued to rain cats, dogs, and frogs for the next several hours. The TARDIS continued to tempt, promising of dryness.

It continued to rain cats, dogs, and frogs for the next several hours. The TARDIS continued to tempt, promising of dryness.

Online Brewing Software – MyBrewCo.com

Over time, I will be copying recipes over to https://mybrewco.com/. MyBrewCo is, according to the site, a “free online brewing system to manage your brewing, share recipes and connect with friends.”

It looks to have promise, but I found some drawbacks as well. I have entered the Accidental IPA recipe onto the site (see that here). I could not enter my outputs from that recent brewing session. Apparently, only “Brew Jobs” can be entered and those occur on a date in the future (or that day). Also, the notes features and mashing information–for all-grain batches–is limited or missing. The xml file upload did not not work for the BeerSmith generated xml (which according to the beer xml site is xml compatible); I had to pick out the ingredients off the site’s system.

MyBrewCo.com is working on more features (see here). I am not seeing the brewing management tools such as the ability to take notes during brewing sessions that every brewer needs and there is no forum, which would seem to be necessary to “connect with friends.”

Despite these drawbacks, MyBrewCo.com does have some good features. The ingredients lists were extensive when I was posting the recipe.

When It Comes to Craft Beer, Can We Get Over the “Local” Bullshit?

I love a good rant.

Maureen Ogle

People, can we get over the “local” beer crap?  Please.

What follows is an out-and-out, in-your-face rant. You’re welcome to ignore. I won’t be offended. (And if you’re not connected to or interested in the craft beer business or community, none of it will make sense. So you should ignore it. Please. Go have a good beer!) 

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