Northern California Homebrewers Festival 2015

IMG_2088

Our Malt Konocti Mashers’ booth on the right with a little waiting area in front of the dispensary.

IMG_2096

This year’s theme was Prohibition. Under the 18th Amendment to the US Constitution, doctors could write prescriptions for alcohol. “You’ve gotta fever and the prescription is more beer.”

IMG_2086

Looking toward “Home” (left of photo) where you register and buy tee-shirts.

IMG_2098

Dr. Paul tasting a prescription to see if it meets his exacting standards.

IMG_2099

Patients could choose from a tasty array of medications.

IMG_2102

Next door to our booth was a “barber shop” where one of the aerosol cans of Barbasol dispensed an IPA.

IMG_2107

The D.O.Z.E. ([Mt.] Diablo Order Of Zymiracle Enthusiasts) booth was a Dept of Treasury office with soda up front and samples of forbidden beer in the back.

IMG_2109

Looking to the left of our booth.

IMG_2111

Evidence tags on illegal beer at the GBA booth.

IMG_2116

The Worts of Wisdom booth had soda in the front (self-serve). Word is that they had beer behind the curtain.

IMG_2113

GBA’s serving list being prepared.

IMG_2117

Almaden Brewers prove that tie-die is not dead, though it should be.

IMG_2119

Silicon Valley Sudzers had some cute names for their beers.

IMG_2120

The Silicon Valley Sudzer branch office of the IRS.

IMG_2124

The Doctor is in.

IMG_2114

GBA getting rid of the evidence by drinking it away.

IMG_2126

A wanted poster for Willie the Brewer on a trash can.

IMG_2128

Across from our booth. The lecture tent and stage on the left.

IMG_2127

The checkered awning is the booth for tasting the club competition beers.

IMG_2130

Lecture tent and stage on the right. More booths on the left.

IMG_2131

The “Library” with the faux stone walls had some amazing food.

IMG_2133

Dr. Jon dispensing medicine to needy patients. The sign in front says, “The Amazing Dr. Paul’s Healthful Elixirs: Good for What Ales You.”

These photos are from the Northern California Homebrewers Festival (NCHF).

NCHF was bittersweet this year, landing as it did, during the Valley Fire. When we set up our booth, we knew at least one member had lost his home and two others were not sure. To say it put a damper on our spirits would not be overstating it.

We thought we might just have a pile of burnt rubble instead of any booth. In the end, we set up and made the best of it.

The theme this year was Prohibition. Prior to the event we did some research (okay we Googled it) and learned that prescriptions were written for alcohol. So we ordered some toy stethoscopes and reflective mirrors for our foreheads, and printed up some fake Rx pads. We prescribed many of the following: Dr. Kam A. Sutra’s India Pale Tonic, Dr. Paul’s Chocolate Coconut Porter Elixir, Blanche’s Nutritive Cream Ale Tonic, Dr. Jon’s Mother’s Milk Stout, or Dr. Jon’s Three for the Road Tripel.

Next year’s theme is…wait for it…Belgium. So if you like beer that tastes like a barnyard with cloves and bananas sprinkled about, you’ll love the NCHF in 2016.

Hop Characteristics Wheel

I check in on Twitter nearly daily. Here is a graphic that looked helpful to me and my fellow homebrewers. It’s a graphic, based on John Palmer’s Hop Wheel (found on page 30 in this PDF), and redesigned and updated by Tim Kreitz, that gives the primary characteristics of hops: spicy, citrusy, fruity, floral, piney (evergreen), herbal, earthy.

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)

This week on BrewZasters: Session IPA

I got a call from my friend Ron, the owner and head brewer, at Kelsey Creek Brewing Company the week before last. He had some American ale yeast, would I like it? Hell yes, I would like it. Getting “some yeast” from Ron is the equivalent of maybe 10 starter batches; it’s probably a pint (~0.5L) of active yeast.

I recently found a recipe for a “small” IPA (India Pale Ale) that I wanted to try. The recipe falls pretty well into the hoppy pale ale category. The idea is to give the “mouthfeel” and hoppiness of an IPA without the alcohol kick. Or, what I call a session IPA. Here’s the recipe:

(Anticipated) Original gravity = 1.045

(Anticipated) Finished gravity = 1.012

(Anticipated) SRM (Color) = 18

(Anticipated) Alcohol By Volume = 4.3%

Grain Bill (Mash at 152F/67C for 60 minutes)

2.9 lb (1.3 kg) 2-row pale malt (2 SRM)

2.5 lb (1.13 kg) Munich malt (9 SRM)

2.0 lb (0.9 kg) Vienna malt (3.5 SRM)

Hop Schedule

0.78 Oz (22g) Simcoe hops (12% Alpha acids) at 90 minutes

1.0 (28g) U.S. Golding hops at flameout

2.0 Oz (56g) Amarillo hops “dry hopped” in secondary

Yeast

Wyeast 1968 (London ESB) yeast

The author appears to be going for an English/American fusion IPA taste by calling for a London Extra Special Bitters yeast and the aroma/dry hop additions of Golding and Amarillo hops. These aroma/dry hop additions should give the beer a floral and citrus aroma but the London ESB yeast should dampen some of the taste in ways a cleaner American ale yeast wouldn’t. The use of Munich and Vienna malts should give a fullness (I’m no expert here, I’m checking BeerSmith and BeerAlchemy for descriptions) that wouldn’t be there with straight 2-Row barley because they will yield less fermentable sugars than straight 2-Row barley would. (Experts, please leave a comment to let me know if I’m totally off base)

I wanted to make this. I really like the session beer idea where you get a lot of taste but don’t need to take a nap after two beers.

Of course, I had only two ingredients of the recipe: 2-row malted barley and Munich malt.

I needed to get creative. I had ten to twenty batch-worths of yeast that wouldn’t last indefinitely. So as somebody (Hunter S. Thompson?) once said, “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”

My version of Laurel IPA. Slightly cloudy with a SRM color around 6.

This is a picture of my Laurel IPA, but the Session IPA looks similar.. Slightly cloudy with a SRM color around 6.

Here’s the recipe I came up with:

Estimated Original Gravity: 1.045

Estimated Final Gravity: 1.010

Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 4.5 %

Estimated Bitterness: 39.0 IBUs

Estimated Color: 6.1 SRM

5 gallon batch

Grain Bill (Mash at 152F/67C for 60 minutes)

5 lbs 12.7 oz Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM)

1 lbs 12.1 oz Munich Malt – 10L (10.0 SRM) Grain 2 20.5 %

12.8 oz Corn, Flaked (1.3 SRM) Grain 3 9.3 %

3.8 oz Caramel/Crystal Malt – 60L (60.0 SRM) Grain 4 2.8 %

Hop addition schedule

19.84 g Galaxy [14.00 % AAU] – First Wort Hop

1 Oz (28 g) Centennial [10.00 % AAU] – Boil 0.0 min

1 Oz (28 g) Falconer’s Flight [10.50 % AAU] – Dry Hop

Yeast

3 pkg Wyeast Labs #1272 American Ale II (a bit fruitier than my go to yeast Safale 05)

I brewed it on July 8 and hit the estimated numbers right on. The wort cooled and I added the yeast. Visible fermentation happened in 30-40 minutes. It started so quickly I worried that it had an infection. I covered the Better Bottle carboy with a wet t-shirt to keep it cool and closer to the optimum fermentation temperature. The coolest part of my house, the basement, was hovering around 80F during the day—too warm for something that is not supposed to be a Belgian-style beer.

The specific gravity after two days in the fermenter was 1.010. It was transferred to another carboy (i.e. the secondary) and left for several more days.

My beer wench (i.e. my wife) and I bottled the beer today using four ounces of corn sugar mixed with the beer to carbonate (bottle conditioning).

I’m pleased with how it turned out. I give the beer 4 out of 5 stars. It tastes delightful with a citrusy hoppiness that dances on your tongue. It has a pleasant aftertaste. The mouthfeel is on the light/watery side of the scale. I would like to have a bit more fullness and maybe a little biscuit. I’ll add Victory and Vienna malts to the next batch in lieu of the corn and Crystal 60.

Moving into all-grain brewing

Gary Glass, President of the American Homebrewers Association appears in this video. The video shows him pouring crushed malted grains into a plastic ice-chest and adding hot water (hot liquor in beer geek speak) to the grains and making a porridge (aka mash).

There is a formula for deciding how hot (the strike temp) the water you add should be to get the desired temperature for the mash (the target mash temp is quite often ~149F-152F).

After the grain(the mash)  has steeped for a while (60 minutes is common), the liquid wort is drained out to be boiled. (The ice-chest has some tubing on the outside and some screening on the inside to allow the sweet wort out and keep the spent grains in.) After the wort has been captured, it is boiled (60 minutes is common) just as an extract batch would be.

The Beer Brewing Process Infographic

I like this infographic showing “The Process of Brewing Beer” (hat tip to Jay Brooks at the Brookston Beer Bulletin). The graphic provides three steps that do not need to happen (but can, and often do, at the craft brewery and mega-brewery level): whirlpool, hopback, and filtering. Those three steps do not have to happen to make beer.

This Week in BrewZasters: Go Yeast Old Man

Yeast Explosion

Yeast will build up some explosive pressure when they are well fed in a sealed container. I am still finding spots of yeast in nooks and tiny crevices around the kitchen.

Microscopic yeast are in the air all around us. They are the reason that we have beer, wine, and other alcoholic drinks.

Beer (and therefore yeast) lubricated the rise of civilization:

At some point in prehistory yeast fell into the gruel of one of our ancestors–after all, yeast is in the air around us. The gruel had been made from grain that had started to sprout (when seeds sprout an enzyme is released that breaks the starches stored in the seed into sugars the seedling will need for energy). Or perhaps the gruel tasted bad and our ancestor spit into the bowl (our saliva contains enzymes that break starch into sugars). The yeast started eating the available sugars. As they ate they produced ethanol (C2H5OH) and carbon dioxide (CO2). The next day, our ancestor would have noticed some froth on the top of the gruel, sipped it, and she (yes, she) found it didn’t cause problems. In fact, she felt better after drinking the frothy liquid.

She had discovered what Oscar Wilde discovered generations later:

“I have made an important discovery…that alcohol, taken in sufficient quantities, produces all the effects of intoxication.” — Oscar Wilde

Without yeast we would not have beer or civilization.

A couple of weeks ago my friend Ron (who runs Kelsey Creek Brewing) gave me a container of Irish ale yeast–a big container of yeast. So much yeast that I could have used it for 100 gallons of wort (rather than the 5 gallons I planned to make). I put the plastic container in the refrigerator for use in the following day’s brewing. Cold temperatures make yeast less active. But, even with the cold, they were active enough to produce a lot of CO2 gas.

The picture above shows the aftermath of my opening the plastic jar. I’m still finding yeast in places in our kitchen.

Fortunately for me, my wife loves the beer I make.

===============

Here is some yeast (in a Better Bottle fermenter) eating sugars and producing CO2 and alcohol:

Related articles: