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:



Monday, October 11, 2010

Nanobrewery Interviews: Wild Wolf Brewing Company

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.

Wild Wolf Brewing Company
Nellysford, VA

For the fifth brewery in our Nanobrewery Interviews, we had the opportunity to speak with Mary Wolf, co-founder of the Wild Wolf Brewing Company, located in Nelson County, Virginia.  Wild Wolf is currently in the process of opening its doors.  They are proceeding with a two-phase development plan.  Mary, along with her son, Danny, will begin with a 10-gallon nanobrewery and homebrew supply shop as Phase 1 of development.  The nanobrewery will then upgrade to a 15 bbl. brew house in a 5,000 square foot building in Phase 2.  The larger building will also house a pub and expanded homebrewing store.

Below is our interview with Mary.

* * *

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

Mary Wolf (MW):  Danny, who is the Wild Wolf Brewing Company head brewer, was been an avid homebrewer for 6 years.  This led him to attending the Siebel Institute of Technology, World Brewing Academy, where he took classes to hone his skills.  The Academy culminated in an apprenticeship in Munich, Germany.  Danny's brewing sparked a similar interest in Mary, who is a retired business executive.  They decided to take a class called Starting Your Own Brewery at Siebel together.  The plan was that Mary could help Danny start a VERY small brewery in order to gain working experience. After taking a class at Siebel, Mary was so taken with the industry, the people in it, and the collaborative nature of craft beer, that they hatched a new plan to open a full-sized brewery themselves.  Wild Wolf is the fruit of that vision.

LW: How are you planning to differentiate your beer from all the other offerings in your area?

MW: Wild Wolf will be focusing on producing quality craft beer that appeals to the local customer base.  By testing the market with batches from the 10-gallon smaller system, Wild Wolf can home in on specific beer recipes that meet the demands of their local customers.  Additionally, there is evidence that the local resident crave craft beer, as there are two other small breweries operating successfully in the area.

LW: Speaking of other breweries in the area, do you view them as competitors, collaborators, or a little of both?

MW: Wild Wolf views the other breweries as both collaborators and partners in the industry, as well as competitors.  The collaborative nature of the brewing industry is one of the things that interested Mary in craft beer in general.  However, Wild Wolf believes that they can differentiate themselves in the market, with the homebewing shop being the just the first of such factors.

LW: A craft brewery with a homebrewing shop is not a common pairing.  Do you anticipate the shop providing much in the way of revenue, or are there other less-tangible benefits to operating it?

MW: The homebrewing shop will generate some revenue for Wild Wolf, on its own.  But, Mary believes it is also an effective marketing tool.  By bringing homebrewers into the brewery, they can help generate interest in Wild Wolf and its beers to the wider community.  Additionally, most homebrewers like beer, so they can become customers in their own right.

LW: What made you choose a two-phase approach to building the brewery?

MW: Creating a brewery is a very complex and long process.  The two phase approach allows Wild Wolf time to get their financing for the larger brewery in order, while honing recipes and building their brand and audience on the smaller system.  Phase 1 of the project, the 10-gallon nanobrewery and homebrewing supply shop, is currently open and will begin growler sales on November 1, 2010.  Wild Wolf hopes to break ground on Phase 2, the larger 15 bbl brewery and pub, by the end of 2010.  Mary recommends that others working on building a brewery consider the phase approach, as well.

LW: How do you plan to involve the community in your brewery?  Have they been supportive of your efforts so far?

MW: Wild Wolf has a number of plans for involving the community. In Phase 1, they plan on offering weekly homebrewing demonstrations, as well as working with local homebrewing clubs through the shop and periodic events and tastings.  In Phase 2, Wild Wolf plans to do regular events to generate funding for local charities.  They will also offer regular brewery tours to the public.  Mary feels that community support of the brewery has been great so far, with people showing a lot of interest in the project.

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?

MW: Here is a version of Danny's barleywine.

Wild Wolf's Barleywine

  • 12 lbs Maris Otter malt or 4 lbs dried or liquid malt extract
  • 1 lb crystal 40L-60L malt
  • 1/2 lb crystal 80L malt
  • 1 lb flaked oats
  • 1 lb wheat malt
  • 3 oz northern brewer hops - 60 min
  • 1 oz fuggles hops - 20 min
  • 1 oz fuggles hops - 5 min
  • Use your favorite American or English ale yeast
  • Mash at 148 F for 60 min
  • Ferment between 65 F and 68 F
  • Age on 1 to 3 oz of French oak cubes for up to 6 months

* * *

We want to thank Mary for taking the opportunity to share this information with us and our readers.  If you want to find out more about Mary or Wild Wolf Brewing Company, check out their website or better yet, if you are in central Virginia, stop by the brewery.



Thursday, October 7, 2010

Poll: Have you ever tried making your own hard cider?

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 "Have you ever tried making your own hard cider?" are presented below.

Total Votes: 16

On first impression, the vast majority of responses to our poll were very positive towards homemade cider.  Whether they've made cider before or not, almost everyone who responded will likely try it in the future.  Frankly, that's great.  Although, its not too surprising considering that most of the readers of this blog are homebrewers or others interested in DIY-type hobbies. 

On the other hand, the number of participants in this month's poll was dramatically lower than polls of prior months - almost by half.  I guess we can conclude that there is also a larger group of the readership out there who are apathetic towards homemade hard cider.  It might not be their cup of tea, but they don't have anything against it.  But, of course, because they didn't vote, we'll never know...

Its always hard to get the real story behind responses to a poll (particularly ones that only allow for multiple choice-type input).  If you voted in the Cider poll, take a moment and let us know your thoughts on home made cider (we would especially like to hear the perspective of the one voter who had no interest in making it).

Lastly, if you're reading this, then a new poll has been posted that awaits your input.



"Everbody thinks I drink beer but I actually like cider!"
-Prince William

Monday, October 4, 2010

Interesting Brewing Ingredients: Spanish Cedar

The Reinheitsgebot, the ancient German Purity Law set down in 1516, limited the components used in making beer to water, barley, and hops.  Note, that yeast was not listed because the fermenting process was not fully understood until later.  However, brewers the world over have long used many other sources of fermentables and flavor.  This Lug Wrench series seeks to explore some of the stranger and more innovative ingredients used by ancient and modern brewers.

Spanish cedar is a fragrant wood known for its termite and rot-resistant qualities.  It has long been used in the cigar industry for packaging and storage in the form of cigar boxes and humidors.  Spanish cedar, which is actually a form of mahogany, contains resin and oil that provide its aromatic qualities.  These components become soluble in the presence of alcohol and are not harmful to humans.  Thus, it was only a matter of time before someone tried to brew with the wood.

Cigar City Brewing is a craft brewery located in Tampa, Florida.  The brewery was founded in 2008 by Tampa-native Joey Redner and has a mission to expose people to Tampa's history through its beer offerings.  Tampa was at one time the world's largest producer of cigars.  As such, it comes as no surprise that Cigar City began experimenting with brewing using cedar after being exposed to the concept by a local homebrewer.  The resulting beers, called the Humidor Series, feature a variety of beer styles and the IPA version won a gold medal at the 2009 Great American Beer Festival.

Wayne Wambles, Cigar City's Head Brewer, offered advice to homebrewers who wanted to work with Spanish Cedar in an interview on the Brewing Network's Sunday Session.  The most important thing was to make sure you use actual Spanish cedar; do not use normal cedar wood or the results were very unpleasant.  Wayne suggested buying Spanish cedar spirals (they used ones from The Barrel Mill) and using 12 to 15 inches of the wood in a 5-gallon batch.  He advised adding the wood in secondary and leaving it in contact with the beer for two weeks, at refrigeration temperatures.  Cigar City has experienced flavors ranging from rye and spice with lower Spanish cedar infusion rates to white grapefruit, sandalwood, nutmeg, and clove with larger wood additions.

I decided to try my hand at brewing the recipe Cigar City provided on the show.  The base beer was a American IPA that had 63 IBUs and used Columbus, Amarillo, Ahtanum, Centennial, Cascade and Simcoe hops.  Instead of wood spirals, I used 18 grams of Spanish cedar lighting sticks that my local homebrewing store had available.  I added the sticks with the dry hops and left them on the beer for eight days at room temperature.  The final beer has a wonderful cedar aroma that compliments the hoppy nose quite well, but does not have any real discernible Spanish cedar flavor.  When I next attempt to brew this recipe, I will definitely use more Spanish cedar to try and increase its flavor contribution.

I would encourage our readers to give this new ingredient a try.  If you do, please post a comment on how the resulting beer turned out.


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