Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013 Homebrewing Year in Review - Jeff

For the fourth year, Tom and I have been posting our 'Year in Review' numbers to commemorate our homebrewing accomplishments.  With 2013 in the rearview mirror, it was time to break out the spreadsheets and tally up my homebrewing stats from the prior 12 months.

A look through my prior years posts (2010, 2011, and 2012), my brewing took an upturn in 2013 to debunk the trending decline (cheer!).  My homebrewing calendar continues to be sporadic, but the output was certainly stronger with 10 beers (and one cider) passing through the system.

In a manner similar to my prior year posts, here are my 2013 numbers:
  • Number of Batched Made: 11 (10 beers, 1 cider)
  • Number of Gallons Made: 59 gal.
  • Most Popular Beer Style: American Pale Ale (n=2)
  • First Brew Day of the Year: Feb 17, 2013 (Scottish 60/-)
  • Last Brew Day of the Year: Nov 24, 2013 (American IPA)
  • Homebrew Comp Results: Eisbock - Silver Medal, Ocean State Homebrew Competition; Traditional Mead - Gold Medal, Ocean State Homebrew Competition.
  • Number of Lug Wrench Collaborative Beers Brewed: 2 (RIS & mini-RIS)
  • Average ABV Across Batches: 5.79%
  • Highest ABV: 11.3% (Russian Imperial Stout)
  • Lowest ABV:  3.3% (Session Pale Ale)
  • Favorite Brew of the Year: Cait the Grate, RIS - because it was latest in the long line of collaborative beer's Tom and I have been able to brew together.
  • Least Favorite Brew: Smoked Porter - the beer just didn't attenuate, leaving me with 5 gallons of sweet, smoky porter.  However, making lemons into lemonade, I kept the keg and used it in cooking as part of a beer brine for chicken, which has been outstanding.
  • Most Popular Yeast Used: US-05 (5 packets) - mostly for the convenience
  • Approximate Amount of Grain Used in 2013: 120.45 lbs
    • Most Popular Base Malt: US 2-Row Malt (78.25 lbs)
    • Most Popular Specialty Malt: Cherry Smoke Malt (3 lbs)
  • Approximate Amount of Hops Used in 2013: 26.8 oz (1.68 lbs)
    • Most Popular Hop: Newport (7.4 oz) - its been my go-to bittering hop ever since I picked up a 1 lbs bag last year.
From both Tom and I, we wish everyone a wonderful New Year and many more brewing sessions to come.



"I have taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me."
-Winston Churchill

2013 Homebrewing Year in Review - Tom

Even though we have not posted this year nearly as much as in previous years, Jeff and I thought it would be a good idea to continue our annual tradition of posting each of our homebrewing years in review.  It is a fun process to look through the year's brew logs and remember the different beverages from the year, as well as comparing the year to previous ones to find any trends.  You can find the posts for previous years here: 2010, 2011, and 2012.

Here are the numbers for 2013.
  • Number of Batches Made - 21 (down one from last year)
  • Number of Gallons Made - 135 (near the same as last year's 141)
  • First Brew Day - 1/5/2013
  • Last Brew Day - 12/23/2013
  • Number of Beer Batches - 18 (same as in 2012)
  • Number of Wine Batches - 1
  • Number of Cider Batches - 1
  • Number of Mead Batches - 2
  • Batch with Highest Alcohol - 14.3% - Chianti wine kit from Vintners Reserve.  Strongest beer was Golden Harvest Tripel, weighing in at 8.6% ABV.
  • Batch with Lowest Alcohol - 2.2% - Dim Wit, a rye session beer made with Jeff M., a member of my homebrewing club, where I got to see his electric brewery in action.
  • Average Alcohol Across Batches (accounting for batch size) - 6.2%
  • Number of "Cloned" Commercial Beer Batches - 3 - Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA, 21st Amendment Bitter American, and Stone's Vertical Epic from 03/03/2003
  • Number of Batches Brewed with Fellow Homebrewers - 5
  • Coolest Event Attended - I was able to attend the 2013 National Homebrewers Conference in Philadelphia and had a fantastic time.  I hope to go again some day.
  • Favorite Brew - Math Challenged II - Second year in a row brewing this recipe with Michael M.  Originally it was a clone of 90 Minute IPA, but I incorrectly calculated the amount of hops in the various additions and it ended up more hop-bursted than the original.  And we liked it better too.
  • Worst Brew - Black Bock - A beer designed to be shared with members of an acting company that we have been part of for many years, but the beer failed to attenuate and eventually soured.  Very disappointing.
  • Favorite Name - Cicada Invasion - A red IPA brewed for a friend's summer party, it celebrated the invasion of the cicadas this year and the constant background drone they brought for a good portion of the summer.
  • Approximate Amount of Grain used in 2013 - 299.5 pounds (average of 16.6 lbs/brew)
  • Approximate Amount of Hops used in 2013 - 77.5 ounces (average of 4.3 oz/brew)
  • Most Rewarding Aspect of Brewing - Continuing to be involved in this great hobby with my brother and friends and seeing the number of local breweries grow.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving from Lug Wrench

Another year has passed, and today we give thanks for all that we have been blessed with.  Tom and I wanted to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and hope that everyone had the chance to reflect on friends and family that enrich our lives.

After a year of personal challenges, this Thanksgiving was more important than most and we were very pleased that things have turned out how they have.  Here's hoping that the coming year will be just as fortunate and enjoyable. 

Cheers to all and hopes that everyone has a great beer and great company during this holiday season.



"What event is more awfully important to an English colony than the erection of its first brewhouse?"
-Rev. Sydney Smith

Monday, November 25, 2013

Heady Topper - The Taste of Hops

My good friend, Jeff, recently presented me with an awesome treat - a can of Heady Topper.  Heady Topper is a Double IPA that is brewed by The Alchemist Brewery, located in Vermont.  Its intense flavors and limited distribution have resulted in a cult-like status surrounding the beer.  Heady Topper has earned top marks on beer rating sites like ratebeer and beeradvocate.  The Alchemist was featured in the March/April 2013 issue of Brew Your Own (BYO) magazine, which provided interesting back story on the brewery and beer, some fun anecdotes of people trying to get cans of Heady Topper, and a clone recipe.

The beer pours a very hazy clover honey color with a thick white head that thinned relatively quickly.  My wife's glass had chunks at the bottom, which the can label identifies as hop resins.  The aroma features a huge burst of grapefruit, lemon zest, and pine tree resin.

The flavor of Heady Topper is as intense as its aroma.  It begins with a burst of citrus fruit character that slaps your taste buds around.  The middle of the flavor features a strong pine resin character, along with a hint of sweetness.  It also features a substantial mouth feel, including the prickly sensation of carbonation.  The beer has a long finish, with a bracing bitterness and alcohol warmth in the back of the throat.  The finish lasts for at least 30 seconds or more, but is not cloying in any way.

Heady Topper is certainly an intense tasting experience, but certainly not something I would have as an every day beer (my wife likely differs with me here).  I found the beer changed flavors as it warmed, featuring more citrus qualities over pine resin and more sweetness over the length of the tasting.

The labeling recommends that you drink it directly from the can to help reserved the intense hop aromas and present them directly to your palate.  An interesting thought, but I think I would rather see the beer in a glass than drink it from the can.

What a fantastic beer.  Given our enjoyment of Heady Topper, and my wife's love of hops, I think I may have to try the BYO clone recipe sometime in the future.  If you have already done so, please leave a comment to this post, as I would love to hear about it further.

Thanks again to Jeff for his incredibly generous gift.


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