Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Homebrewing Year in Review - Jeff

Following suit with Tom's post, I decided to roll up and summarize my homebrewing experience for 2010 for a post.  This year was the first year that I brewed all my beers all-grain (made the conversion to AG mid-2009) and I graduated from bottling with the purchase of a keg setup (mid-2010).  While my numbers were down from last year (25 batches in 2009), Lug Wrench Brewing turns One year old after the the New Year - another great milestone.
  • Number of Batches Made: 19
    • Number of Beer Batches: 18
    • Number of Cider Batches: 1
  • Number of Gallons Made: 107 gallons
  • Most popular beer style: American Pale Ale (3 batches)
  • First Brew Day of the Year: January 10, 2010 (Irish Red)
  • Last Brew Day of the Year: December 11, 2010 (Ranger IPA Clone)
  • Homebrew Competition Medals Earned: 4 Medals - Gold, South Shore Brewoff (Irish Red); Silver, Dominion Cup (Dunkelweizen); Bronze, Boston Homebrew Comp (Dragon's Milk); Bronze, South Shore Brewoff (American Pale Ale).
  • Average ABV Across Batches: 5.7%
  • Number of 'Cloned' Beers Brewed: 3 (Rouge's Shakespeare Stout, De Struise's Pannepot, New Belgium's Ranger IPA)
  • Favorite Brew: Foreign Export Stout - mainly because we got the chance to collaborate with Mike T. over at The Mad Fermentation for this beer.
  • Least Favorite Brew: Brown Porter - the brew day was fine, but the results were very bland.
  • Approximate amout of grain used: 196.5 lbs
    • Most popular base malt: Pilsner malt (51 lbs)
    • Most popular specialty malt: Munich malt (7.6 lbs)
  • Approximate amount of hops used in 2010: 2.25 lbs
    • Most popular hop: Williamette (12.1 oz)
  • Biggest Equipment Upgrade: Dual gauge CO2 regulator and kegging setup
From both Tom and I, we hope everyone has a wonderful and rewarding New Year.  Look forward to some exciting changes to Lug Wrench in the coming year!



"The church is near, but the road is icy.  The bar is far away, but I will walk carefully."
-Russian Proverb

2010 Homebrewing Year In Review - Tom

I have documented "brewing year in review" posts for the past couple of years on another blog and I always found them to be a nice way to reflect on the year.  As such, I figured I could continue the trend with some random 2010 brewing stats and facts at Lug Wrench Brewing Company.  I believe Jeff plans on following suit, so our audience can get a feel for what we have been up to for the past year.

  • Number of Batches Made - 23
  • Number of Gallons Made - 155
  • First Brew Day - 1/3/2010
  • Last Brew Day - 12/18/2010
  • Number of Beer Batches - 19
  • Number of Wine Batches - 2
  • Number of Cider Batches - 1
  • Number of Mead Batches - 1
  • Homebrew Competitions Medals Earned - None
  • Batch with Highest Alcohol - 14.1% - Pinot Noir kit
  • Batch with Lowest Alcohol - 4.3% - BAM! - Jolly Pumpkin Bam Bier clone
  • Average Alcohol Across Batches - 6.1%
  • Number of "Cloned" Commercial Beer Batches - 5
  • Favorite Brew - OMG IPA (wonderful IPA with layered "juicy" hops that had just a hint of the cedar wood it was aged on)
  • Worst Brew - In The Not So Pale Belgian Pale Ale (unremarkable beer that did not have any memorable qualities and part of the keg was dumped to make room for another beer.)
  • Favorite Name - Tornado Warning IPA (I was brewing the IPA when my wife called to say there was a tornado warning in town.  The name paired well with the hoppy nature of the beer.)
  • Approximate Amount of Grain used in 2010 - 334 pounds (average of 17.6 lbs/brew)
  • Approximate Amount of Hops used in 2010 - 85.15 ounces (average of 4.48 oz/brew)
  • Biggest Equipment Upgrade - Tool-box mounted wort pump
  • Most Rewarding Aspect of Brewing - Maintaining this blog with my brother for almost a year.  It is great way to share a hobby with each other, even from a distance of more than 500 miles. 

Happy New Year!


Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Dinner - Cooking With Beer

Hopefully, everyone has had the chance to get a break from the daily grind and enjoy the holiday season.  And while the snow here on the eastern seaboard is a day late of being a White Christmas, it's a welcome sign of the season.

Recently, I have to admit that I have been caught up in the 'cooking with beer' concept.  Most of this has been driven by listening to Sean Paxton on The Brewing Network's The Homebrewed Chef.  While there is a pleasant novelty of using beer as an ingredient, the impetus has forced me to get my basic cooking skills in order to accommodate some of Sean's recipes.  Who knew there was a foodie in me? 

With our house playing host to family for Christmas, it gave me the perfect opportunity to try out several new recipes as part of our holiday feast.  With the meal being a success, I figured I would post the beer-related recipes here for two reasons. The first was in the chance the experience cajoles a reader to give the recipes a try.  The second reason, which is a bit more selfish but probably the real driver, was write down the recipe and notes so I can refer back to them sometime in the future.

In either case, if you are interested, certainly check out Sean Paxton's website or give him a listen on The Homebrewed Chef.

Dubbel Candied Yams
(Discussed on the 12/16/10 episode of THC)
These came out awesome, although with all the sugars in the dish, we had to keep them away from the diabetic who was at the table.
  • 2.5 lbs Yams (peeled and cut in 1" disks)
  • 750 ml bottle of La Trappe Dubbel
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 cup of local wildflower honey (thanks again Bil)
  • Cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla are called for in the original recipe, but they slipped my mind during the mad dash to get everything on the table.
Mix the dubbel, sugar, honey (and spices) and bring them to a simmer.  Once the syrup is simmering, add in the cut yams and return to a boil and cover.  Cook yams for 35 minutes.  Remove the lid and cook down for another 10-20 minutes to thicken the syrup.  Serve warm.

Barleywine Marinated Rib Roast
(Taken directly from Sean's recipe)
This was the centerpiece of the meal and a favorite amongst those at the table.  I was a little concerned it might come out a little too rare, but it came out perfect.
  • 8 lbs Rib Roast
  • 1 bottle of Anchor Old Foghorn
  • 2 tbsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 lbs kosher salt
Wash the roast in cold water then pat dry with paper towel.  Place in a roasting pan and pour the bottle barleywine over the top of the meat and cover.  Every 30 minutes for the next two hours, baste the meat with the barelywine.  Preheat the oven to 250 F.  Place the meat on a roasting rack and insert digital meat thermometer probe.  Rub the meat down with mix of 2 tbsp salt & 2 tbsp pepper.  Then coat the top of the roast with 1/2" of kosher salt. 

Place meat in the oven and cook until the internal temperature rises up to 120F (~4 hrs).  Remove the roast from the oven and let rest for 20 minutes.  Raise the temp of the oven to 500 F.  Scrap off salt layer and place meat back in hot oven for another 10 minutes to brown and caramelize the outside of the roast.  Remove the meat and let rest for another 20 minutes before carving.  The final internal temp of the meat was 141 F when carving.

In addition to the above, I also prepared the barleywine sauce as described in Sean's recipe.  However, when it got to the table, the result was too bitter to palate (probably reduced it down too much) and I pulled it from the meal to be replaced with a traditional au jus.

Horseradish Ale Sauce
(Taken directly from Sean's recipe)
Another good hit.  There is a bit of a citrus tang from the IPA that complements the horseradish kick.  This was made the night before and while primarily made to accompany the beef, it was also used as a dip with crackers.
  • 1/2 cup prepared horseradish
  • 1/2 cup of homebrewed IPA (New Belgium's Ranger IPA clone)
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2-3 tbsp all-purpose flour
Add horseradish, beer, salt, sour cream, mayo, and pepper and whisk together.  The initial mixture came out too liquidy, so I whisked in 2-3 tbsp of flour to thicken.  Refrigerate until use.

Roasted Garlic IPA Mashed Potatoes
(Taken directly from Sean's recipe).
Because there were some people at the table who were not garlic fans, we made the garlic cream sauce the night before and then folded it into half the mash potatoes that were to be served.  The result was good, but there was no noticeable IPA/citrus character - just good garlic mashed potatoes.
  • 2 heads of garlic
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup light cream
  • 2-4 tbsp homebrewed IPA (New Belgium's Ranger IPA clone)
  • kosher salt and pepper
Cut the top 1/4 - 1/5 of each garlic head, exposing the cloves within.  Dosed each head with olive oil, a sprig of thyme, and a dash of salt and pepper.  Wrapped each head up in a square of foil and roasted them in the oven (pre-heated to 300 F) for 30-40 minutes.  After roasting, pull the heads out and let cool for 5 minutes.  Squeeze out all of the cloves into a mixing bowl and mash with a fork.

In a medium pan, combine the butter, cream, 2 sprigs of thyme and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove thyme sprigs and add in garlic paste.  Simmer for 3 more minutes while stirring to break up garlic.  Remove from heat and season with salt, paper, and IPA.  Placed the cream sauce in the fridge until use, when about half the mixture was folded into mash potatoes.

*   *   *

From both Tom and I, we hope everyone had a splendid holiday and have plans for a wonderful New Year.



"It is not 'just beer', it is a noble and ancient beverage which, like wine, food, and television advertising, can be extraordinarily good or unmercifully bad."
-Stephan Beaumont

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Lug Wrench Brew: Midnight Wheat, Wheat Wine Braggot

Jeff and I took the opportunity to brew our fifth collaborative beer while he was down visiting for Thanksgiving.  As mentioned in our Mason Dixon Line Mead post, we had a unique opportunity to utilize some Rhode Island wildflower honey from a friend of Jeff's and we wanted to make something special with it (thanks again Bil!).  The honey's aroma and flavor were fascinating and complex with hints of lavender and some herbs like mint.  When deciding on what recipe to brew, we ended up making a play on the ubiquitous honey wheat style that has gained favor as a "gateway" beer in the American craft beer segment.  However, true to our collaborative brew goals, we wanted it to be a much bigger beer that could be aged over time.  In the end, we decided on brewing a Wheat Wine with honey, or a Wheat Wine Braggot.

Officially, a braggot is a derivative of mead, or honey wine.  As one would expect, braggots are a hybrid between beer and mead with fermentables coming from both the honey as well as malted grains.  Some sources state that a minimum of 50 percent of the fermentables have to come from honey to be called a braggot (ours is about 20 percent), but other sources state that only 25 percent need to come from the honey.  Our recipe is right on the latter edge.

When formulating the recipe, Jeff was fortunate to interact with Sean Paxton, The Homebrew Chef, via email, to get some guidance and suggestions on brewing a great wheat wine.  Using Sean's feedback, the base wheat wine recipe was put together.  As Jeff and I discussed the beer, the decision to bolster the recipe with honey came afterwards.  Originally, the honey addition was must smaller (1-2 lbs) and was included primarily bump up the gravity in the beer.   However, we really liked the thought of what flavors honey would bring to recipe.  In the end, the honey addition continued to be increased until we ended up with what is printed below.  All of this was decided upon before we actually had the RI wildflower honey in hand, and once we were able to taste the raw honey's complexity, we knew we made the right decision.   

During any large family gathering, like this Thanksgiving, finding time for Jeff and I to brew together is always a challenge.  In this case, we brewed the wheat wine late in the night after all the kids were put to bed, resulting in another post-midnight brew session (hence the beer's name).  The braggot has just been bottled and it is cloudy like many beers with a significant amount of wheat (this despite cold stabilization and fining with gelatin).  The collaborative brew has a complex flavor and I am excited to see what a little aging will do to it.

The recipe and notes for the beer are listed below and I will update the notes as the beer continues to age.



Midnight Wheat, Wheat Wine Braggot

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal): 5.0
Total Fermentables (Lbs): 24.6
OG: 1.101 (target: 1.108)
FG: 1.021
SRM: 12
IBU: 60 (Rager)
ABV: 10.8%
Brewhouse Efficiency: 61%
Wort Boil Time: 90 Minutes

8.10 lbs Maris Otter Malt
5.70 lbs White Wheat Malt
1.80 lbs Torrified Wheat
0.90 lbs Caramel Wheat Malt (46 L)
0.30 lbs Caramunich Malt (56 L)
4.80 lbs RI Wildflower Honey
3.00 lbs Dried Malt Extract
0.50 lbs Rice Hulls

1.90 oz Perle Pellet Hops (7.5% AA) at 60 minutes
0.60 oz Williamette Pellet Hops (5.6% AA) at 15 minutes
0.60 oz Tradition Pellet Hops (5.6% AA) at 15 minutes

1.0 Tab Whirlfloc at 15 minutes
1.0 gram Chalk in mash
1.0 gram Calcium Chloride in mash
3.0 grams Baking Soda in mash
1.0 gram Chalk in boil
1.0 gram Calcium Chloride in boil
32 drops of Foam Control in the boil

30 grams – Safale US05, Dry Yeast

Mash Schedule
60 min at 153°F
Batch sparged to get 8 gallons in brew kettle

Brewed on 11/23/10 by the Wallace Brothers. Fifth collaborative session brew.

After the mash and sparge was complete, we added the 3 lbs of DME because our pre-boil gravity was lower than expected.

Aeration was accomplished via an aquarium pump and diffusion stone, run for 20 minutes.

Yeast was pitched at 64 F and fermentation started within 12 hours.  Fermentation was allowed to ramp as high as 70 degrees after the first 48 hours to help the beer attenuate.

12/12/10 - Dropped the beer to lager temperature (~40 F) to help clear it.

12/15/10 - Added 3 tsp of gelatin clarifier in one cup of 140 F water to the cold beer to help clear it.

12/21/10 - Bottled with 4 Muntons carb tabs per bottle.  SRM is approximately 12 (I love this beer math iPhone app that does color approximation).  Appearance is a hazy golden-honey color.  Smells yeasty with some caramel and a bit of clove.  Flavor is complex and warming with a firm bitterness in the middle and a notable fruit/citrus flavor in the end.  No detectable hot alcohols.

2/27/11 - Samples of Midnight Wheat were submitted to the 2011 Boston Homebrew Competition, where the beer was awarded a bronze medal in the Fruit/Speciality/Wood-Aged/Smoked category.

4/18/11 - Wrote an article on the Midnight Mini-Wheats, a version of this beer that I tried to brew by dramatically lowering the ABV.

4/22/11 - Midnight Wheat scored a 41.5 in the first round of the 2011 NHC and advanced to the Mini-Best of Show.  It did not medal or go onto the second round of the NHC.  Best competition score I have received to date.

10/9/11 - Brewed a new double batch of Midnight Wheat with Kenny.  Hoping it turns out as good as the first batch.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Pintley - Personal Beer Recommendation Community

I just discovered Pintley and I am very intrigued.  Pintley is an online community of craft beer lovers that exists to provide users with custom tailored beer recommendations.  Pintley takes user-entered beer ratings and uses an algorithm to compare information (style, alcohol by volume (ABV), international bitterness units (IBU), etc.) on the beers the user liked to come up with recommended beers the user might light to try.  Each beer is rated on a one to five pint glass scale, which ranges from "strongly dislike" to "loved it."  There is also a thumbs down rating, which means never recommend this beer again.  The more beers a user rates, the more specific Pintley's recommendation list becomes.

Pintley also provides access to an online community and forum.  A user can enter tasting notes on a specific beer, as well as rating the beers appearance, aroma, taste, texture, drinkability, and value.  These tasting notes and ratings are available to other members of the community, based on a given user's privacy settings.  Users can also "friend" other users and follow their ratings, recommendations, favorites, and wish lists.  Pintley allows easy posting on Facebook and Twitter and provides easy access to its functionality through its iPhone app.

I am interested in Pintley because it focuses on my beer interests.  By recommending beer that I might like to try, it offers me a service that other beer rating sites do not.  I am far more interested in a site that helps me figure out what six-pack to buy at a bottle shop than how many points a specific beer has earned from an online community.  That being said, I have not had an opportunity to use Pintley's recommendations yet, but I am excited to see how they turn out.

For more information, visit Pintley's site or listen to an interview with the site's founders on The Brewing Network.  If you do decide to join, you can follow my account with the user name: LugWrench.



Thursday, December 16, 2010

Homebrew Equipment Repair: Propane Burner

When I converted over to all-grain brewing about a year and a half ago, I was generously given a collection of second hand equipment by both my brother and members of my local homebrew club (RIFT). Several of these pieces have been upgraded and retired, but a few are still part of my brewing process. One of these in particular was my turkey fryer-esque propane burner.  Up until a few days ago, that piece of equipment was looking like it was quickly being destined for the obsolete list.

I should point out that the house we live in does not have a garage, or for that matter, much outdoor storage. As such, the propane burner tended to remain out in the elements where corrosion was able to tighten its grip. While the aesthetics of some rust was a non-issue to me, the corrosion of the burner head was becoming a problem. Instead of the efficient (and clean) blue flames, the burner had degraded into the inefficient, oxygen-starved orange flame. It not only burns excess propane, but it also kicks out a boat-load of soot and grime that coats the underside of all the kettles. Not ideal.

Originally my plan was to replace the entire propane burner setup when someone pointed me to a great spare parts website. ‘Why not just change out the burner head?’ Why not? What a great idea!  It made perfect sense: $17 for a new part vs. $68 for a whole new assembly.  So after a little searching, this is what I found:

Boyce, LA
BC-BG12High Pressure Cast Iron Fry Burner$17.00

Of course all the corrosion meant removing the old burner head was a challenge as the fixation bolt holding the burner to the frame was severely rusted over. In the end, a good pair of vise grips and some banging with a hammer allowed me to torque off the bold head, releasing the corroded part. With the new part installed, the problem was all fixed – no more orange fire and kettles covered with soot.

There was one frustrating watch-out I did come across. For some reason, these ‘Made in America’ turkey-fryer burner heads accept only metric bolts. I was scratching my head with angst when none of my existing bolts would fit. It took a drive to Home Depot with the burner head in had to find out that the part was tapped with a metric set. Go figure…



“My people must drink beer.”
-Frederick the Great

Monday, December 13, 2010

Poll: What is your ideal beer to pair with an autumnal feast?

Similar to what has been done for all our prior blog polls, this post takes a moment to memorilize the results we recieved on our most recent blog poll.  The readers' responses to the question "What is your ideal beer to pair with an autumnal feast?" are presented below.

Total Votes: 25

There isn't a real stand out based on these results - IPA's and Porters would seem to be the front-runners, but not by enough to make them stand out.  Perhaps people have a kaleidoscope of preferrences for what to serve this time of year.  I am very curious what the individual voters in the 'Other' category had in mind.

As mentioned in some of the prior posts, Tom and I were able to share the Thanksgiving table this year down in Virginia.  We both decided to look pick our own 'Thanksgiving Feast' beer, and we both independantly chose beers that would fall into the 'Belgian Ales' category above.  Tom picked up a bottle of the Saint Louis Brewery's Schlafly Grand Cru, a belgian golden strong ale, while I went with a bottle of Goose Island's Sofie, a golden saison-style beer with wild yeast.  Both are great beers.

Let us know your thoughts, either as a comment or an email.  And if your reading this, we've put up our next poll, which awaits your response.



"Beer makes you feel the way you ought to feel without beer."
-Henry Lawson

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Lug Wrench Brew: Mason Dixon Line Mead

Jeff and and his family were able to join us down here in Virginia for Thanksgiving again this year.  Once we knew this visit was a possibility, we began planning another collaborative brews.  After deciding on brewing a Wheat Wine Braggot (the details of which will be posted soon), we began sourcing the honey we would need for the brew.  In addition to fitting in a brew session, we decided to try something different - making mead.  The only question was if we were able to get enough honey for both the braggot and the mead.

Mead is an alcoholic beverage that is produced by fermenting a solution of honey and water.  Some people believe that it is the world's oldest alcoholic beverage.  It is also the root of the word honeymoon, as newly married couples would drink mead for a month to bring fertility and happiness (and hang-overs).

As part of the search to find the honey we needed, we decided it would be fitting (and a pretty cool backstory) if we sourced half the honey from Rhode Island and the other half from here in Virginia - a true Mason Dixon Line Mead.  Seeing how honey is flavored strongly by the raw materials the bees have to work with, the idea was to make a mead from honey from Rhode Island and from Virginia.  The mead could highlight some of the differences between our respective residences.  For the Rhode Island contribution, Jeff talked to a homebrew buddy in RI who is also an beekeeper with one or two hives.  After discussing the project, Jeff's friend agreed to contribute several pounds of Rhode Island honey (thanks Bil!).
The Rhode Island honey was a wild flower honey because it did not come from one particular source of flowers, but from whatever plants grew in the region near the hives.  The honey was unfiltered, giving it a cloudy appearance.  Its aroma was fascinating and complex with an amazing floral bouquet with hints of lavender and some herbs like mint.  The Rhode Island honey's flavor was equally complex, featuring several herbal flavors, including cinnamon and mint.

For the Virginia contribution, I was able to find a clover honey that is packaged nearby in Berryville, Virginia.  The clover honey was a bit more of a 'commercial' product, as it was filtered and clearly labeled.  It smelled and tasted much as one would expect from a store-bought honey, which is to say it was good, but uncomplex.  The honey had a warming flavor, but mostly it was just sweet.  I was amazed at how different the two honeys were when compared side-to-side.  It will be interesting to see what flavors and aromas come through in the final mead.

The mead is happily fermenting away and will probably keep doing so for the next month.  I am excited to see what flavors and aromas come through in the final mead and to see if one honey dominates the overall flavor profile.  If one does, I hope it is the Rhode Island wild flower honey, as it was something truly unique.



Mason Dixon Line Mead, Dry Mead

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal): 5.0
Total Fermentabales (Lbs): 11.75
OG: 1.070
SRM: ~7
IBU: 0
Brewhouse Efficiency: N/A
Wort Boil Time: N/A

5.5 lbs Gunter's Pure Clover Honey - Berryville, VA
6.25 lbs Wild Flower Honey - Rhode Island

1 tsp Yeast Energizer
2 tsp Yeast Nutrient
4 g Potassium bicarbonate

10 g – Lalvin D47 dry white wine yeast

Created on 11/28/10 by the Wallace Brothers. Sixth collaborative session brew.

Mixed honey without heating.  Added nutrients with the following schedule (25% upon mixing honey, 25% 24 hours after fermentation started, 25% 48 hours after fermentation started, and 25% 72 hours after fermentation started.  Fermenting at 70 F.

12/18/10 - S.G. 1.000.  Color is crystal clear straw.  Nose has a bit of an herbal quality and alcohol.  Flavor and nose have a lot of the RI honey character, which is herbal and a bit minty.  Flavor also has some hot alcohol.

4/18/11 - S.G. 0.999.  Bottled.  Mead is crystal clear and the same pale straw color.  Aroma has a faint herbal character, which is slightly medicinal.  Flavor has a honey back flavor, with a medicinal front end.

6/27/11 - Mason Dixon Line Mead featured in a homemade cheese and homemade beer/mead pairing, which is captured here.

4/8/13 - Samples of the Mason Dixon Line Mead were entered into the 2013 Ocean State Homebrew Competition where the mead placed 1st in the Traditional Mead category (although there were only two entries in the category).

4/11/13 - Tasting notes collected on the blog here.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Nanobrewery Interviews: Baying Hound Aleworks (Part 2)

While most of us have toyed with the thought of starting up a nanbrewery, others have taken the plunge.  To find out more about who these people are and what makes them do what they do, Jeff and I embarked on a series of interviews with regional nanobreweries to get their stories.

Baying Hound Aleworks
Rockville, MD

In the second part of our interview with Baying Hound Aleworks, we conclude our conversation with Paul Rinehart.  Paul founded Baying Hound Aleworks in the summer of 2010 and it just officially opened earlier this month.  Baying Hound Aleworks beer can be found in Montgomery County, MD.

* * *

Lug Wrench (LW): If you were speaking to an individual who is considering the prospect of opening their own nanobrewery, what advice would you give them?

Paul Rinehart (PR): Be patient but don't let the government slack.  The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) can take up to 90 days to even look at your paperwork.  Do your research regarding local jurisdictions.  I get a lot of people asking if they could do it out of their basement and they seem a bit disappointed when I tell them they can't, not legally at least.  My first location got turned down by the TTB because it was a shared space, so I found an affordable warehouse.  Also, keep in mind, that the TTB and even some state agencies require you to have a physical location, so be prepared to pay up to 3 months of rent without being able to bring in any revenue.

LW: What's the most interesting thing that has happened to you since you started the brewery?

PR: Interviews and tours.  I love it when people come by the brewery, some just want to talk shop, while others just want to see what a nanobrewery looks like.

LW: Your website has a number of recipes that are prepared with or would go well with beer.  Can you provide us with more information about your interest in pairing beer with food?

PR: I have a culinary background, I've worked in a few area restaurants, some of which did a lot of beer dinners.  A few years ago, a friend of mine and I did a pod cast called Better Beer Food.  We only did two seasons but it was a great experience and really made me think about food and beer pairings.  I took that a step further with my beer, I designed it to go with food.

LW: Is there anything else you think our readers might enjoy learning about you or your brewery?

PR: I'm a really nice person and I love to talk.  I hate drinking alone, so come for a tasting one of these days.  Baying Hound Aleworks is the only manufacturing brewery in Montgomery County, it is also the smallest brewery overall.  The only other breweries in the county are all brew pubs or restaurants.

LW: Many of our readers are homebrewers and love to hear about new recipes.  Could you provide us with a recipe you think may be of interest?  It can be a recipe from your current brewery, one from your homebrewing past, or even one you always wanted to try, but never got around to doing.  Anything goes.

PR: I'm really tempted to use herbs de provance in a beer.  This is a recipe off the top of my head.  This contains some dried malt extract (DME) just to speed things up a bit.  Also, the recipe uses a no sparge technique.  6 gallon

Herbs De Provance Beer (6 gallon recipe)

  • 3 lbs White Wheat Malt
  • 1 lb 30L Crystal Malt
  • 2 lb Pale Malt
  • 2 lb Vienna Malt
  • 3 lbs Light Dried Malt Extract
  • 1 lb Flaked Wheat
  • 2 oz Saaz Hops (45 min)
  • 2 oz Saaz Hops (30 min)
  • 2 oz Saaz Hops (15 min)
  • 2 oz Herbs De Provence (last 15 minutes)
  • English ale yeast


  1. Bring the water up to about 160F.  Add the grains and hold at 160F for 30 minutes.
  2. Siphon off the wort into another pot and add the DME.  Allow the DME to dissolve then return it to the heat.  Bring to a boil.
  3. First 15 minutes, add the first hops.  Repeat at the 30 minute mark.  with 15 minutes left, add the remaining hops, the herbs and some Irish moss.
  4. I use a plate chiller myself, bring the temperature down to an appropriate pitching temperature.  Add the yeast.
  5. Let this ferment for about a week.  If using a conical you don't have to use a separate secondary.
  6. Prime with priming sugar, about 5 oz and bottle.  Allow it to condition for at least a week.  It is drinkable after a week but let it age for another week, it will be much better.
* * *

The prior installment of our interview with Paul can be found here.

We want to thank Paul for taking the opportunity to write to our readers.  It is very much appreciated.

If you want to find out more about Baying Hound Aleworks, check out their website, read an article about them in the Washington Post, or stop by the brewery and buy some of their beer.



Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Session #46: Unexpected Malt Discovery

Welcome to The Session – a collaboration of bloggers writing on a common beer-related topic.  For the month of December, Mike R. Lynch of Burgers and Brews chose "An Unexpected Discovery: Finding Great Beer in the Last Place You’d Look" as the collective topic to explore.  A round-up of all the blog posts will be posted in the near future.  You can read more about Beer Blogging Friday (“The Session”) over at the Brookston Beer Bulletin.

One of the things I love best about The Session topics is their breadth.  Mike's comments on the topic end with "Write about a beer experience that took you by surprise."  This statement got me thinking about one of Lug Wrench's favorite topics, homebrewing, and a strange place that I found some homebrewing ingredients.

A beautiful summer day in June of 2009 found my family taking a scenic drive through the Virginia countryside.  On our list of things to do were to enjoy a picnic lunch, stop at a couple of wineries, and tour two distilleries.  There are two operating distilleries in Central Virginia near my house and I had not visited either of them.  The second distillery was the real gem, and the most fun stop for me on our entire trip. I first saw mention of The Copper Fox Distillery on the Mad Fermentationist's blog.  Copper Fox is located in Sperryville, VA in an old apple processing facility.  The owner, Rick Wasmund, and his "Master of Malt" (Mom) operate the distillery and provide very personal and educational tours. They have an innovative aging process where they age the whiskey in contact with apple and cherry wood, which imparts an interesting color and taste to the whiskey. But, the coolest thing of all is that they malt their own barley.

Copper Fox uses 6-row barley as the sole ingredient in their whiskey.  They get the barley from one farmer, who lives about 3 hours from the brewery, and bring the raw grain directly into the distillery.  Then, during the cool times of the year, they soak the barley in giant vats and then lay it out on the floor of a special section of the building.  They let it germinate and then they kiln it right there on site, using apple and cherry wood.  This imparts the malt with a interesting smokey note that helps make the whiskey distinctive.  At the time, Rick thought they are the only distillery in North America that malted their own grain.

Rick was kind enough to send me home with a sample of this special malt.  The malt was a very special gift and it created a wonderful back story for the German-style rauchbier I made from it.  The story behind that beer made it far more memorable for me than other beers I have made since, so much so that I clearly recall it more than a year and a half later.  Something as simple as the gift of a raw ingredient by a generous distiller resulted in my unexpected beer discovery.

In short, the last place I ever expected to find good beer was from small Virginia distillery.



Monday, November 29, 2010

Nanobrewery Interviews: Baying Hound Aleworks (Part 1)

While most of us have toyed with the thought of starting up a nanbrewery, others have taken the plunge.  To find out more about who these people are and what makes them do what they do, Jeff and I embarked on a series of interviews with regional nanobreweries to get their stories.
Baying Hound Aleworks
Rockville, MD

In the seventh installment of our Nanobrewery Interviews, we spoke with Paul Rinehart, the founder of Baying Hound Aleworks, located in Rockville, Maryland.  Paul is a trained professional chef who comes from a line of chemists, brewers, and bootleggers.  He began brewing at a young age and has continued homebrewing to this day.  Paul's interest in beer, along with his chef training, has pushed Baying Hound Aleworks's beers towards pairing well with food.  In fact, Paul offers recommended beer and food pairings, along with a number of recipes on his website.

The Baying Hound Aleworks began operation in Rockville in July 2010, though it only officially opened for business earlier this month.  Paul uses a 55-gallon brew house and two 42 gallon fermenters.  He bottles the beer and offers it for sale within Montgomery County, MD, though he hopes to eventually distribute in the District of Columbia and Virginia.  The brewery is named in honor of Marmalade, Paul's late bloodhound companion, who used to enjoy left-over spent grain from his basement homebrewery.

Below is our interview with Paul.

* * *

Lug Wrench (LW): What inspired you to start-up a nanobrewery?

Paul Rinehart (PR): I always wanted to open a brewery, starting a nanobrewery seemed to be the next logical step in the evolution of a homebrewer.  The only thing that sets me apart from a homebrewer is that I can legally sell my beer.

LW: How did you gather the required capital to start the nanobrewery?

PR: I took out a loan and got financial backing from my family and some of my savings.

LW: How have you involved the community in your brewery?  Do you interact with local homebrew clubs?

PR: Since I started my nanobrewery, which is actually the only manufacturing/wholesale brewery in Montgomery County, I have had a lot of homebrewers asking me what it would take to start their own.  I took part in a beer festival back in October, and will be doing a few other festivals soon.  I am responsible for some beer festival organizing so I've been given the job to try and contact other local brewers.  I love networking and this is a great way to do it.  The only interaction I have with a local brew club is being invited to a cask ale tasting put on by the Brewers United for Real Potables (BURP) homebrewing club.  I hope to have a little more involvement with them in the future.

LW: With regards to selling your beer, what has been the biggest challenge you have faced in getting draft accounts or shelf space?

PR: In Montgomery County, I went to places that specialized in craft brews and not the mass produced beers, not naming any names.  As for the rest of the DC metropolitan area, that is pretty much up to my distributor.  The biggest challenge is getting your foot in the door, but once you are in, you're in.

LW: Looking forward, what are the biggest hurdles you see your brewery facing?

PR: Keeping up with demand.  I currently produce two barrels per week, that's about 30 cases.  Last week I sold 40 cases.  But that's the beauty of a nanobrewery, because of its small size, its easier to upgrade.

* * *

The conclusion of our interview with Paul Rinehart and Baying Hound Aleworks will be posted shortly.

If you want to find out more about Baying Hound Aleworks, check out their website, read an article about them in the Washington Post, or stop by the brewery and buy some of their beer.



Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Turkey Day

With this being a short week, we'll keep this a short post.  From our glasses to yours, have a pleasant and Happy Thanksgiving.

Goose Island's Sofie
One of many selections for our Thanksgiving table.



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

Monday, November 22, 2010

Beer Production & Consumption Around the World

Anyone that has been reading this blog knows I'm a sucker for statistics, especially ones that are presented in a visual format.  The image below I picked up from a post over on Daily Infographic.  Using data similar to what we used for our Beer Taxes Per Capita analysis, the graphic below ranks the nations based on the amount of beer brewed and the number of pints emptied within a respective country's borders.

Enjoy - if you can't read the text, click on the image and a high-resolution version should appear.



"Give me a women who loves beer, and I'll conquer the world."
-Kaiser Welhelm

Friday, November 19, 2010

National Homebrewers Conference: Locations Over the Years

Something got me thinking the other day about the history of where the National Homebrewers Conference (NHC) has been located over the last decade or so.  Mostly for curiousity, I dug up the information and plotted it out on a map of the US for the fun of it.  To add a little more informtion to it, I swapped out the geographical map out for a population density map of the US.
NHC Conference Location vs. US Population Density

While there are many homebrewers who are willing to fly around the country to attend the NHC conference, I would argue that there are many more that would attend if the conference is within driving distance.  So the above map gives an idea of whether the yearly conferences doing a good job covering the US population as well as if there are highly populated areas that are being left out. 

Of course, the above logic is based on the assumption that the general US population distribution is equivalent to the population distribution of US homebrewers (which may or may not be a valid assumption).  And while I may also be a bit biased (being a New Englander), it seems that much of the Eastern Seaboard and the Pacific Northwest have not been getting a lot of love from the national conference. 

Obviously a lot more goes into the conference site selection, including a well organized hosting homebrew club, affordable accomodations, and a thriving beer scene.  This map was just another way to look at where the conferences have been located and how it relates to population densities.  I am sure I am not alone when I say that I am very interested to see where NHC 2012 will be hosted.



"An honest brew makes its own friends."
-John Molson

Monday, November 15, 2010

Bread Made with Beer

Home bread-making is one of my favorite hobbies.  Much like homebrewing, making your own bread is rewarding and allows the baker the flexibility to make a wide variety of different bread styles.  Traditional bread, which does not contain preservatives, is best eaten fresh and stales rapidly.  Baking bread at home allows the baker to enjoy it at its freshest state, and as such, I try to bake about once a week.

But, what does bread baking have to do with beer?  The Brewing Network's newest show is called The Homebrewed Chef.  The show features chef Sean Paxton, know as The Homebrew Chef, and he discusses many aspects of cooking with beer and pairing food with beer.  The show offers a nice departure from The Brewing Network's other shows, which are all strictly beer focused, and tries to pull foodies and chefs into the craft beer movement.

At the end of the show entitled Meat The Butcher, Chef Paxton mentions the fantastic idea that bread's flavor can be enhanced by adding beer to the dough.  I was dumbfounded - what a great idea!  Given that I bake bread often and have access to a constant supply of homebrew, I immediately started planning a baking session to give the idea a try.  The bread I selected was a simple white hearth loaf from Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day, which I modified by switching 15 percent of the bread flour with whole rye flour for increased flavor.  I used an Irish red ale to replace all of the water in the dough and just followed the recipe as normal.

The dough definitely did not rise as high as normal, which I attribute to the beer's alcohol inhibiting the activity of the bakers yeast.  The dough was noticeably darker than normal as well, likely because of the darker color of the beer.  The resulting bread had a dense crumb and a rich and moist flavor that had notes of caramel and molasses.  It also had a bitter edge to the flavor, which could have come from the hops, though the Irish red only had 25 international bitterness units (IBU).  The bread was enjoyable and would make great toast.

I plan on continuing to experiment with beer in bread.  In the future, I would likely replace less than 100% of the water with beer, as an attempt to strike a balance between dough rise and beer flavor.  This would especially be true when using beer styles with higher IBU levels, like India pale ale (IPA).  I will also likely increase the bread's salt content next time I use a malt-forward beer like the Irish red, as it would provide a nice counter balance to the dense malt flavor from the beer.

Have you ever made bread with beer?  If so, leave a comment and let our readers know how it turned out.



Thursday, November 11, 2010

Poll: What's the oldest beer you've sampled?

Similar to what has been done for all our prior blog polls, this post takes a moment to memorilize the results we received on our most recent blog poll. The readers' responses to the question "What is the oldest beer you have been able to sample?" are presented below.

Total Votes: 21

So half of the particpiants in the poll have never tried a beer that was brewed before 2007, with a select few who have probably tried and old barley wine or similar brewed in the 90's.  While this was basically the expected result we envisioned, I can't help but think that if this was a wine blog with a similar wine poll, that the results would inherently be different.  They would be skewed a bit more to the right.  So why is it more acceptable for aging wine, but not beer?  For some reason this is a phenomenon that has taken off in wine, but has yet to take hold in beer yet.

Let us know your thoughts, either as a comment or an email.  And if you are reading this, the next poll has posted and awaits your response.



"I like beer.  On occasion, I will deven drink beer to celebrate a major event such as the fall of Communism or the face that the refrigerator is still working."
-Dave Berry

Monday, November 8, 2010

Nanobrewery Interviews: Rocky Point Artisan Brewers (Part 2)

While most of us have just toyed with the thought of starting up a nanobrewery, others have taken the plunge. To find out who these people are and what makes them do what they do, Tom and I embarked on a series of interviews with regional nanobreweries to get their stories.

Rocky Point Artisan Brewers Inc.
Rocky Point, NY

As a follow-up to the first half of our interview with Donavan Hall, partner in the Rocky Point Artisan Brewers (RPAB), this post presents the conclusion of our Q and A with Donavan.  RPAB, which was founded in 2008, is planning to sell its first beer by the summer of 2011.

*  *  *

Lug Wrench (LW): Getting back to the 'Local' theme, are you able to source any of your brewing  ingredients from local suppliers in the Long Island area?

Donavan Hall (DH): Another way we are looking to "keep it local" is by using locally produced ingredients. We have been talking with a couple of local farms about sowing a few acres of barley, but given that there are no malting facilities nearby we would have to malt the grains ourselves. We will probably experiment with malting our own for a special "harvest" release once a year. Our harvest beers already make use of hops grown right here on Long Island. Ultimately, we would like to make at least one "All Long Island" beer that will include only ingredients grown on Long Island -- and that includes the microflora we'll use to ferment it.

LW: In order to sell your beer local, have you looked at other programs/means to distribute your beer outside the traditional channels (bars and bottle shops)?

DH: Because nanobreweries only produce a single digit number of barrels per week, it's preferable to sell directly to the end user than to a wholesaler (like a pub or beer store who expect nanobrewed beer to be as inexpensive as industrially, mass-produced beer). Of course, breweries are not allowed to sell directly to the public unless they get an additional license to do so. Fortunately, small breweries can get such a license.

LW: Where did you get the inspiration for the beers you are planning to commercialize? How are you picking your offerings?

DH: When Mike Voigt and I started RPAB, we began experimenting with different strains of yeast. We discovered that a particular strain of lager yeast consistently produced fantastic beers. So we built a walk-in fermentation room and two large conical fermenters and concentrated on lager production. We now have a standard repertoire of a half dozen lager beers: two types of Pilsner, a Helles, a Vienna, a Munich, a Doppelbock, and a Schwartzbier.

Each summer we brew as much Hefeweizen as possible (mainly for consumption at the beach, only two blocks away from the brewery). We have brewed other ales, mainly English-style bitters and ESBs for cask conditioning, since the brewery has an English ale yeast that is very reliable. During the cooler months we brew a Bitter, a Pale Ale, and a Porter (all for cask conditioning). We also love Belgian-style beers, but have yet to develop any particular beer for eventual commercial production. Currently, the brewers are experimenting with five different strains of Belgian yeast to determine which works best in their brewery.

LW: Looking forward, what are the biggest hurdles you see your brewer facing

DH: The biggest hurdles that face RPAB at the moment are associated with production. Given the limited quantity that the brewers can produce, the number of regular "accounts" that can be supplied will have to be small. For small breweries, initially, demand out-paces the ability to supply. Brewers often scramble to meet the demand by expanding production. This can lead to mixed results. Staying small will probably be the biggest challenge.

LW: Would you be willing to provide a favorite recipe, whether it’s from your professional recipe book or homebrewing days?

DH: One of our more popular beers is our Black Lager which is modeled a little on what beer geeks call Schwarzbier. For that beer we mainly use Vienna malt and Munich malt with a smaller percentage of Melanoidin and Carafa Special I. We bitter with Magnum hops and add Hallertauer for flavor and aroma (but not too much). To make this beer a little more special, sometimes we bump up the grain bill and add oats to the mash.

* * *

If you want to find out more about Donavan or Rocky Point Artisan Brewers, check out their website, or better yet, if you are in the Long Island area, stop by the brewery.



“A little bit of beer is divine medicine.”

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Iron Brewer

I first heard of the concept of Iron Brewer on Basic Brewing Radio back in January.  The Garage Brewers Society homebrewing club, located in O'Fallon, Missouri, conducted an innovated homebrewing competition.  Similar to Iron Chef, now on the Food Network, contestants were given "mystery ingredients" and asked to brew a beer with them and present the results for tasting at the next club meeting.  Contestants were paired head-to-head, with the winner of each pairing advancing to the next round.  Beers were selected for highlighting the mystery ingredient and overall flavor.  Memorable mystery ingredients included: iced oatmeal cookies, breakfast cereal, sweet potatoes, and rice.  The overall champion was Kent Critchell, who brewed a Potato Ale.

There is another Iron Brewer competition that is conducted nationwide, amongst interested homebrewers.  Iron Brewer, run by Simply Beer, is a similar type of event, but it is not tied to a specific club.  The folks at Simply Beer send out a tweet and an email announcement of a given round and the first six people to respond are selected.  Each round has three mystery ingredients that must be used and the brewers have eight weeks to brew and present their beers.  Then, the brewers send beers to each other and everyone, including the moderator from Simply Beer, votes for their favorites.  Like the Garage Brewers Society event, beers are evaluated for highlighting the selected ingredients and overall flavor.  The winner of each of the six rounds advances to the finals.

I heard about the Simply Beer competition from a friend, Jamey Barlow, who got second place in Round 3 (ingredients: smoked malt, vanilla bean, and centennial hops).  Jamey brewed a smoked baltic porter and was the only contestant of the round to try a lager.  The baltic porter, which I tried at a recent CAMRA meeting, is smokey, rich, and delicious.  It is a fantastic beer, though the centennial hops did not come through as much as Jamey hoped.

I must say that I love the Iron Brewer concept.  It highlights all of the things that make homebrewing great: innovation, brewing without bounds, and camaraderie through beer.  Having listened to the interview with the Garage Brewers Society and reading on the Simply Beer site, organizing such events takes a good deal of work.  Still, the results seem worth it.

Would you ever consider organizing or participating in a Iron Brewer competition.  Post a comment and let us know.



Monday, November 1, 2010

Nanobrewery Interviews: Rocky Point Artisan Brewers (Part 1)

While most of us have just toyed with the thought of starting up a nanobrewery, others have taken the plunge. To find out who these people are and what makes them do what they do, Tom and I embarked on a series of interviews with regional nanobreweries to get their stories.

Rocky Point Artisan Brewers Inc.
Rocky Point, NY

Next in our series of nanobrewery interviews, Lug Wrench got the opportunity to speak with Donavan Hall, one of the partners of Rocky Point Artisan Brewers (RPAB) in Long Island, NY. RPAB is still in the opening stages of the brewery's life. Incorporated in 2008, the company is still working through the process for all its licensing before the first sale. 

Brewing on a 55 gallon Blichman system, the RPAB partners have embraced the local movement and intent on only selling the beer as close as possible to the brewery (within 20 miles) while still being commercially viable. The brewery is planning to be online and generating sales by the summer of 2011.

Below is the first part of our two part Q and A interview with Donavan.

*  *  *

Lug Wrench (LW): What inspired you to start-up Rocky Point Artisan Brewers?

Donavan (DH): Rocky Point Artisan Brewers started as a homebrewing partnership between Mike Voigt and I in 2006. The inspiration (if you can call it that) for starting a nanobrewery came from two directions. Mike Voigt felt that the beer he was brewing was better than most commercial beers, so he didn't feel like a homebrewer anymore. He thought it would be a good idea to take the necessary steps to give the public access to the best possible beer. For me, an avid homebrewer and beer writer (I'm the author of the Long Island Beer Guide), I believed that E.F. Schumacher was right when he said, "Small is Beautiful." So when Mike Voigt approached me about the possibility of starting a nanobrewery, I said, "Heck, yeah!"

In 2009, Voigt and I added another partner, Yuri Janssen, a relatively new homebrewer and fellow Rocky Point resident.

LW: What made you select the name Rocky Point Artisan Brewers for your brewer?

DH: Most breweries pick names like X Brewing Company. While that's fine, Mike and I thought that it wasn't so much the brewery that was important, but it was the brewers. We always thought of ourselves as Artisan Brewers since the word "homebrewer" and "homebrew" had acquired a slightly negative connotation over the years. The word "craft" is overused and is close to being a tired modifier of the monosyllabic word that stands for our favorite beverage. So "artisan" seemed like a good term to substitute for craft. Of course the grammarians might complain and say it should be Rocky Point Artisanal Brewers, since artisanal is the appropriate adjective form, but they think artisan works not as a modifier of the word brewers, but as a co-noun.

LW: How have you involved the community in your brewery? Do you interact with local homebrew clubs?
DH: Early on, Mike and I were looking for ways to involve the community in the brewery. Since Janssen and I were members of local CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture), I asked, Why don't we try to run our brewery like a CSA? We'll call it a CSB! Well, the state of New York doesn't recognize CSBs, but Mike and I want RPAB to be the community beer. Mike insists that the beer must be affordable. One way to keep prices down is by offering beer shares to people in the community. The details of how this will work and how the state of New York will view it are unknown.

As for homebrew clubs, Mike and I have long been involved in the homebrew clubs on Long Island. Together with Rich Thatcher, we started the Long Island Beer and Malt Enthusiasts (LIBME) which is now an AHA recognized homebrew club with well over 100 members. LIBME is one of three active homebrew clubs on Long Island, but it's now the largest and most active.

LW: You mentioned the concept of a Community Sponsored Brewery (CSB) - can you describe a few ideas on how to implement something like a CSB?
DH: The East End of Long Island is farming country. Unfortunately the farm culture is under siege by the cancer of what folks call "development" -- that is the destruction of perfectly good land by bulldozing the top soil, knocking over all the trees, and building a clutch of McMansions, a fake pond, and an unnaturally green golf course. Despite the threat of development, there are still a number of farms out on the East End and one of the models that is helping them survive is called Community Supported Agriculture or CSA.

We've been involved with a couple of the local CSAs for several years. We get pretty much all our food from CSAs including all our meat which is supplied by local livestock farm. The idea is that we purchase everything we need as close to home as possible. This means avoiding supermarkets and especially "national chain" brands (and that includes brands like Whole Foods that are using their international muscle to wipe out local Long Island-based markets). We try to operate our brewery as sustainably as possible. For example, we have a bunch of chickens that we feed our spent grains to. The chickens love the spent grains and they in turn make these wonderfully flavorful eggs with the deepest yellow yokes you've ever seen. In the future if we start brewing multiple times a week and we have more spent grain, we'll probably add a goat. Being cheese lovers as well as beer lovers, we're looking forward to making goat cheese.

Given that our brewing stems from a commitment to "keeping it local", we thought that a Community Supported Brewery model might actually help small, local breweries (like ours) to function. It's a simple idea. Like a CSA, members of our CSB would get a share of our production. Members would "subscribe" for a period of time (6 months or a year) and they would receive their share of whatever beer we made.

LW: If you were speaking to an individual who is considering the prospect of opening their own nanobrewery, what advice would you give them?

DH: Don't go too fast. Look for ways of starting cheaply. In the state of New York, they expect you to do without revenue for almost a full year, so make sure you can pay the rent on your brewery all that time.

*  *  *
Part 2 of our interview with Donavan and Rocky Point Artisan Brewers will be posted shortly.
If you want to find out more about Donavan or the brewery, check out their website or better yet, if you are in the Rocky Point area, stop by the brewery.



“Anyone can drink beer, but it takes intelligence to enjoy beer.”
-Stephen Beaumont

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween from Lug Wrench

While many of our American holiday's are over marketed and sensationalized, even still, Tom and I wanted to wish all those who read these lines a Happy Halloween.  Try to remember the fun hidden behind the masks, candy, and tomfoolery.   

And in order to tie this all to beer, we'll leave you with a great pictoral advertisment for the Wychwood Brewery that Jay Brooks recently featured on his blog.  Hobgoblin: a favorite and a timely beer for today.



"Meet me down at the bar!  We'll drink breakfast together."
-W. C. Fields

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Optimal Fermentation Temperature Ranges by Yeast Strain (Wyeast Labs)

Below is the third Yeast Strain Chart in the series, which visually compares the preferrable fermentation temperatures of each yeast strain in Wyeast's stable.  As mentioned in the first Yeast Strain Chart posting, this project intends to visually compare the critical parameters of each yeast strain to one another.

Click on the thumbnail below to get a higher resolution image of the chart

In addition to the above, check out the other yeast strain charts (all the links will be updated when the charts are posted):
If you'd like higher resolution PDFs of this or any of the charts, just shoot me an email.  I'm more than happy to share them.



What contemptible scoundrel has stolen the cork to my lunch?
-W.C. Fields

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fun With Art II: Meat Sections

As I mentioned the last time we featured the Meat Sections blog, the is a non-beer blog that truely amuses me.  Every day, the blog's owner, Alyson, displays a illustration/painting in the style of a butcher's meat section diagram - with some being traditional, and others being abstract.

For Day 284, the following 'Meat Section' painting featured Berliner Weisses, a style that is a growing favorite of mine (when I can find them).  As described in her blog post, this beer style is many times served with a sweet syrup to cut the sourness inherent in Berliner Weisses.

As usual, great job Alyson!

Check out our prior post about Alyson's blog to get a few more examples that continue to make me a fan of Meat Sections.



"Beer is a wholesome liquor.  It abounds with nourishment"
-Dr. Benjamin Rush

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Brewing As Art Project

Back in April, Basic Brewing Radio interviewed Mark Zapazodi (not sure if I spelled that right, as he goes by Mark Zap online) about his Brewing As Art Project.  Mark is a homebrewer from Staten Island, who also enjoys art from local artists.  Mark thought that he could combine the two interests with a project entitled Brewing As Art.  He felt that brewing is one of the oldest art forms, but one that is not usually recognized as such.  The ability to create interesting and unique flavors in beer requires both an artistic touch and technical prowess, much like the art of cooking.

The basic premise of the project was to create a brewing stand that was a true sculpture, one that was a metal work of art that also functioned as a full homebrewery.  Mark paired with a local metal fabricator and artist, Scott Van Campen, to create a unique metal brewing structure.  Scott was inspired by the industrial nature of brewing, including an almost Steam Punk conceptualization of steel pots, valves, and burners, along with the challenge of making a functional gravity-fed brewing system. The structure was designed to be fully mobile and the could participate in art shows.  Mark could take the structure to the show's opening and brew a batch of beer with the audience being able to view parts of the process.  After that point, the brewing sculpture's artistic qualities would allow it to remain as a stand-alone piece in the show.

Mark pitched the idea to the Council on the Arts and Humanities for Staten Island and received a grant to move ahead with design and construction.  Mark acknowledged that funding for art projects is always sparse, but his decision to include homebrew samples in a wrought-iron six-pack holder, designed by Scott, as part of the presentation certainly helped.  The Council liked the idea that local artists, both brewer and metal sculptor, would be producing one of the most historically locally-important beverages - beer.

The result of the grant and almost a year's worth of work will be unveiled in an event at the Lighthouse Museum Space in St. George, Staten Island on Saturday October 30th.  If you are in the area, please check it out.



Monday, October 18, 2010

100th Post: A Look Back

Neither Tom or I realized until recently that we were quickly approaching the 100th post on the Lug Wrench Brewing blog.  As such, we wanted to take a moment and look back at all the content that has crossed these pages.

As of today...

Number of Posts: 100
Number of Days Old: 289
Number of Comments: 55
Number of Subscribers: 64 (via Feedburner)

Number of Tags: 134
Top Ten Tags Used:
  1. Breweries (11 Tags)
  2. Charts (11 Tags)
  3. Homebrew Recipe (11 Tags)
  4. Humor (11 Tags)
  5. Nanobrewery (11 Tags)
  6. Collaborative Beers (10 Tags)
  7. Interview (10 Tags)
  8. The Session (10 Tags)
  9. Homebrewing Clubs (9  Tags)
  10. Nanobrewery Interviews (9 Tags)
Number of Lug Wrench Collaborative Beers: 4
Number of Gallons of Collaborative Beer Brewed: 24 gallons
Number of Gallons Remaining: ? :)
Number of Blog Polls: 7
Number of Poll Participants: 144
Lug Wrench has been a fun project for us to collaborate on, especially when distance prevents us from getting together more than once or twice a year.  With many more topics and a lot more in store for the blog, we are very much looking forward to the next 100 posts.  Whether you are a new or long-time reader, let us know your thoughts on the blog, its content, ideas for us to explore, or just about anything else.



"Many battles have been fought and won by soldiers nourished on beer."
-Frederick the Great

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Tasting Beer Flaws with Doctored Beer

At my last homebrewing club meeting, one of our members prepared a doctored beer presentation.  The purpose of the presentation was to expose club members to the several common beer off-flavors.  The procedure used to present these beer flaws was to "doctor" an American light lager with food-safe ingredients that mimic the flavor of actual beer flaws.  Samples were then passed around and members were asked to describe what they smelled and tasted.  The resulting discussion was mediated and pushed towards what brewing processes could produce the off-flavor and how to correct any problems.

There are several commercial off-flavor kits on the market.  The one recommended by the Brewers Association is a kit called The Enthusiast, made by a company called FlavorActiV.  The kit contains eight different beer off-flavors and ingredients to provide tastings for a medium-sized club.  The Brewers Association offers the kit for sale for $150 for American Homebrewers Association (AHA) members and $200 for non-members.  The Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) also offers a discounted kit to its members for $50.

But, homebrewers are nothing if not cost-minded and innovative.  Our club member did some research online and found some doctored beer recipes that use common homebrewer or low-cost ingredients (he said he did not spend more than $10).  Below are the off-flavors that we tasted:

Flavor Taste/Aroma Adulterant Amount Added How Created
Sour/Acidic Lactic acid Lactic acid 18 drops food grade 88% lactic acid in 24 oz of base beer Created during or after fermentation by lactobacillus. In non-sour beers, likely a problem with sanitation.
Sour/Acidic Acetic acid White vinegar 13.5 tsp vinegar in 24 oz of base beer Created during or after fermentation by acetobacter. In non-sour beers, likely a problem with sanitation.
Astringency Dry like tea Grape tannin 5 tsp of tannin solution (1/4 tsp grape tannin powder in 5 TBSP water) in 24 oz of base beer Created by mash pH rising too high, which pulls tannins from the grain husks. This is usually due to over-sparging.
Phenolic Bandaid plastic or medicinal flavors Chloraseptic Add drops of chloraseptic to 24 oz of base beer, until plastic smell is clearly present Often created by high-chlorine content in brewing water or lack of rinsing of bleach, when used as a sanitizer. Can also be created by certain yeast strains at high fermentation temperatures.
Diacetyl Buttery/butter scotch Butter extract 18 to 20 drops of extract in 24 oz of base beer Yeast byproduct during fermentation, the amount of which is determined by yeast strain. Can be a sign of incomplete or sluggish fermentation.
Estery Fruity Banana extract 24 drops of extract in 24 oz of base beer Ester created by yeast during fermentation, the amount of which is determined by yeast strain.
Alcoholic Hot alcohol, burning flavor Cheap vodka Add vodka to 24 oz of base beer until hot-alcohol is present Fermenting higher-gravity worts at hotter temperatures can lead to hot alcohols.

Perception and comprehension of beer off-flavors is critical to being able to correct problems in the brewing process.  This is true both at the homebrewing scale and and the production brewery scale.  Conducting an off-flavor demonstration is a great way to help brewers develop a common "vocabulary" of flavor flaws and it can be a lot of fun.  I highly recommend the Lug Wrench readers give it a try.

Here are some additional beer off-flavor resources:


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