Saturday, February 27, 2010

A Little Help From The Beer Mapping Project

Thank god for programs like the Beer Mapping Project. Maybe it’s because I’m currently on the road for business, but the ability to pull up a map of all the beer-related destinations in an unfamiliar area is hugely useful. So while in San Diego this week, all I had to do was punch in the address of the hotel, and presto…a guide to all the beer bars, breweries, and brew pubs that make up the local scene.

The beer highlights of the trip so far (if anyone cares), has been The Toronado, The Linkery (4+ beers on cask!), and The Neighborhood.  Stone's World Bistro is on the agenda for this afternoon before the red-eye flight back home.

Turning back to Beer Mapping Project (BMP), like most of the other web 2.0 sites, all of the content for the BMP is user-generated. Have feelings about a particular location? - you can score and review it on the site. However, I think the user-review driven rankings for each of the sites is a bit flawed on BMP.  Not because there's something wrong with the site itself, but there's just not been enough user-generated reviews to get a true ranking.  The site is not able to reach a critical mass which lets the collective intelligence shines through. With so few user inputs (at least in the cities I have used BMP for), all it takes is one or two yahoos to incorrectly score a location (i.e. “That bar sucks – all it serves is dark and bitter beer!”) and suddenly a worthwhile joint gets potentially deep-sixed. If BMP could link into a larger collection of user reviews - say Beer Advocate - well then there would be some useful value the site's scoring system.

The Beer Mapping Project is, of course, not the only beer travel/mapping website. I’ve certainly used PubQuest (although it only shows you breweries and brewpubs – not beer bars) and Beer Advocate’s BeerFly (which doesn’t have any mapping features). What other online resources are on the web that are useful for beer travel?  What other websites have you used to seek out beer destinations when you’ve been travelling?



“Any foreign trip is better if you can visit a few breweries.”
-Fred Eckhardt

Friday, February 26, 2010

IBU Bitterness Ranges By Beer Style Chart

Below is the second Style Chart in the series, which visually compares IBU bitterness for each of the BJCP Beer Styles. As mentioned in the first Style Chart posting, this project started out as a simple impulse while reading the BJCP guidelines, but took on a life of its own, resulting in the charts of this series.

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

In addition to the above, check out the other Beer Style Charts (all links will be updated when the charts are posted):
Please click here for a higher resolution PDFs of this chart or any of the other charts – I’m more than happy to share them.



“Beer soothes the upset soul.”
-Thomas Mann

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Brew-In-A-Bag Brewing: Something Worth Trying

Why is it that there never seems to be enough time in a given day/week to get done what we really want to accomplish. The overburdened days have an effect on all aspects of life, including our hobby of home brewing. Whether its family obligations, work-related commitments, or name one of the thousands of conflicts that elbow their way onto our schedules, it’s generally the ‘fun’ stuff that gets axed first.

Specific to homebrewing, to minimize the required time footprint for brewing a batch, many folks here in the US are starting to adopt a brewing technique from the Australian homebrewers: the Brew-In-A-Bag (BIAB) technique. Not only is it a shorter brew day, but the equipment costs and clean up time are considerably less than traditional all-grain set-ups. So in addition to the time savings, BIAB also makes for an attractive gateway for extract brewers to brew all-grain brews.

Disclaimer: its by no means the intention of this post to be a definitive guide for BIAB. There is a growing collection of more qualified sources out there that describe the step-by-step best practices and methodology (see below for a few such references). This rambling is merely a suggestion to nudge the concept into the reader’s mind – to encourage homebrewers to give it a try as an alterative method.

In a nutshell, BIAB uses a brew kettle as a mash tun, a hot liquor tank, and a kettle all in one. The milled grain is contained within a very large mesh bag steeped within the water-filled kettle in order to accomplish the mash. Think of it as when using steeping grains as part of an extract brew – except with BIAB, there is no malt extract, as all fermentables are derived from the ~10 lbs of steeping grains. Combine this with appropriate temperature control of the water to accomplish the right mashing/saccharification.

A friend and club member of my local homebrew club (RIFT) has been delving into BIAB over the past 6 months, whereby now, he is preaching the BIAB gospel and looking for converts. Jeff H. (yes, another Jeff – there is a lot of name duplicity in our club) happily agreed when I recruited him to photo-document a BIAB brew sessions and write up his notes on the process. Presented below is the photo record of Jeff H.’s recent BIAB brew day when brewing his Amarillo Pale Ale.

Heating Strike Water. This was a 5.25 gallon batch with 11.25 lbs of grain. Accounting for grain absorption and boil off required 7.75 gal of water. This resulted in a liquor/grist ratio of ~ 2.75. Note the colander in the bottom, which is to keep the bag off the bottom of the kettle in case heat is needed during the mash.

Once the strike water is at the appropriate tempruature (157.7° F), the mesh bag is laid in the kettle in preparation for the milled grains being added.

The 11.25 lbs of milled grains are added to the strike water and stirred into a thin mash, resulting in the mash temperature of 152° F.

Insulation is optional. In this case, some old towels are wrapped around the kettle as a means to maintain the target mash temperature.

Eventually, the mash temperature dropped enough that the insulation was removed, heat was added by the burner, and the mash was stirred to bring the temperature back up.

At the end of the saccharification rest, a mash out is performed.

After the mash out, the mesh bag with the grains are slowly pulled out of the kettle. This strains the grain from the wort and takes the place of lautering. For a 5 gallon batch, the pulley system is convenient, but unnecessary – the bag can be pulled out by hand and held to drain.

After the mesh bag has been removed, the wort is boiled and hopped as normal. In this case, a hop sack is being used to minimize the hop matter in the wort.

The wort is chilled and transferred to a fermenter as normal, leaving behind the hot and cold break – just as would be done in a traditional all-grain brew.

And that’s about it for the process – it’s simple and quick (about 4 hours start to finish). Everything is accomplished in the one vessel, making clean up simpler and faster.

As mentioned above, there are much more in depth guides and how-to’s on there on the web. If reading through this has given you even a shred of curiosity, take a moment and check out one or two of the following BIAB resources:

Lastly, if you are interested, below is the All-Grain recipe for Jeff H.’s Amarillo Pale Ale being brewed in the above photos.
Amarillo Pale Ale, APA

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal): 5.25
Total Grain (Lbs): 11.25
OG: 1.056
FG: 1.016
SRM: 7.2
IBU: 35
ABV: 5.2%
Brewhouse Efficiency: 72 %
Wort Boil Time: 90 Minutes

9.75 lbs. Pale Malt (2 Row) US
0.6 lbs. Munich Malt
0.45 lbs. Crystal 15L
0.45 lbs. Crystal 45L

1.00 oz Amarillo Pellets (8.0% AA) at 60 minutes
0.50 oz Amarillo Pellets (8.0% AA) at 15 minutes
0.50 oz Amarillo Pellets (8.0% AA) at 1 minute
1.00 oz Amarillo Pellets (8.0% AA) as a Dry Hop (for 5 days)

1.0 Tab Whirlfloc at 15 Min

1x 11.5 g package – Safale US-05, Dry Yeast

Mash Schedule
60 min at 152°F

After digesting all the material above, please leave us a comment on your thoughts about BIAB – have you ever given it a try? How was the resulting beer?
And last, but not least, a big thank you to Jeff H. for taking the time to photo-document his process and for sharing his notes on the process.
“We brewers don’t make beer, we just get all the ingredients together and the beer makes itself.”
-Fritz Maytag

Monday, February 22, 2010

SRM Color Ranges By Beer Style Chart

One of the handicaps of being a visual learner is that there’s always an inkling to lay concepts out graphically to appreciate them. About a week ago, I started going through the BJCP style guidelines to see how the styles compare with each other in terms of their vital stats. Which style has the highest allowable Original Gravity? Which styles allow for the most IBU’s? It started out as a doodling impulse, but ended up being a small project I got carried away with.  As such, I figured I would share the resulting Style Charts with anyone else that happens to pass by this blog.

The first of these charts – SRM Color Ranges By Style – is displayed below. Simply click on the thumbnail to get a higher resolution image. The other three charts in the series will be added in subsequent posts.

In addition to the above, check out the other Beer Style Charts (all links will be updated when the charts are posted):
Please click here for a higher resolution PDFs of this chart or any of the other charts – I’m more than happy to share them.



“…Actually, I’m a drinker with writing problems.”
-Brendan Behan

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Wort Pump in a Toolbox #1 - Concept

This is the first in a series of three posts detailing the construction of a wort pump (March pump) in a toolbox housing for a home brewery. This post deals with the concept of the pump build and why someone would want a wort pump. The second post addresses construction of the pump and toolbox combination. The final post discusses alterations to an immersion chiller to allow the use of the pump to speed cooling.

Getting a high-temperature food-grade pump has been on my list of brewery upgrades for a while. Pumps can speed the process of cooling wort, when combined with an immersion or plate chiller. They also speed the process of moving wort to fermenters faster than a siphon or gravity transfer. In my particular case, the pump allows me to use my kettle's ball-valve assembly, which pulls through a stainless steel hose braid. My previous attempts to drain wort through the valve via gravity have failed because gravity draining does not overcome the resistance offered by the hose braid.

Wort pumps are often used on permanent brewing structures, especially those that operate on

a single tier or level. In these cases, the pumps are often mounted with a splash guard or shield because the pump housing is not sealed and the motor can be damaged if exposed to a liquid. However, my brewing system must be dismantled for storage after each use. So I needed a way to keep my pump portable, but to also protect it from the splashes that can occur during a brew day. Along came an idea I first saw in Brew Your Own (BYO) magazine - install the wort pump in a toolbox.

The BYO article, entitled "Pumped-Up Toolbox" (October 2009), provides detailed instructions for installing the wort pump in the body of a tool box such that the pump head, inlet, and outlet are outside the tool box, but the pump motor is inside. This protects the pump motor from splashes, keeps the pump mobile, and provides the brewer with additional storage for small brewing supplies and equipment. The article provides a nice step-by-step guide that provided me a good deal of inspiration. In addition, I spoke with several Charlottesville Area Masters of Real Ale (CAMRA) members that have pumps and capitalized on their knowledge. From these sources, I developed the following feature list I wanted in my pump build:
  • Pump housed in a large enough tool box to fully dissipate any generated heat.
  • Tool box has long extension cord that winds up for easy storage.
  • Pump is connected to a low-profile switch that allows for easy turning on and off.
  • Tool box has an additional outlet built in to provide power for miscellaneous brewing devices, such as a drill-mounted grain mill.
  • Pump output can be throttled down, which allows for slow distribution of wort to fermenter, without disturbing settled break material and hops.
  • Equipment makes use of quick-disconnect fittings for easy of disassembly.
  • Tool box remains fully functional and allows storage of small brewing ingredients or equipment.
Stay tuned for the next blog post that discusses the actual pump and toolbox build, including a parts list, instructions, and photos.  The additional posts in the series include:



Friday, February 19, 2010

Beer Blogger Brewoff – Cool Concept

Erik Myer over at Top Fermented recently posted about a Beer Blogger Brewoff he and several other bloggers started back in December. Simply put, the nine beer bloggers all brewed the same stout recipe, with each blogger being able to alter a single element of the recipe to make it unique to them.

Upon completion, everyone ships their beer to one another and a virtual tasting/evaluation via conference call is planned occur where all the bloggers get the chance to discuss the beers and the process.  Furthermore, the conference call will be recorded and posted as a podcast for anyone who is interested.

This is what I love about beer, blogging, and the intersection of the two: creativity, collaboration, and camaraderie. Good on Peter at Simply Beer for conceptualizing the event – don’t let this just be a one-off experience!



“The brewery is the best drug store.”
- German proverb

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Blurring The Line Between Beer And Wine

It seems that the end of the year and beginning anew always sparks the insipient trend of “Top <fill in the blank> of the Year” lists. Some are quite enjoyable to read (Time’s Best Inventions, Metacritic’s Top Video Games), while others just give me with a puzzled expression (Top Moments Caught On Google Maps).

One list that crossed my browser got me thinking about different perceptions people have of beer. The particular list, Wine Enthusiast’s Top 25 Beer Selections of 2009 (reprinted below), demonstrates an example of how particular drinkers look for particular traits. Here we have a wine magazine - who just started covering beer in 2009 - ranking their impression of the best brewed offerings of 2009.  When you read through the list, ask yourself what characteristics wine drinkers look for when evaluating their beverages? Do any of these wine traits translate into how they perceive a "good" beer? I think you'll find that many of them do.

Wine Enthusiast’s Top 25 Beer Selections of 2009
  1. Captain Lawrence Brewing Co.’s Rosso e Marrone (American Wild Ale; 10.0% abv)
  2. Unibroue’s Maudite (Belgian Dark Strong; 8.0% abv)
  3. The Bruery’s Orchard White (Witbier; 5.7% abv)
  4. Avery Brewing Co.’s The Maharaja (Double IPA; 10.3% abv)
  5. Southern Tier Brewing Co.’s Imperial Pumking (Pumpkin Ale; 9.0% abv)
  6. Basserie de Rochefort’s Trappistes Rochefort 8 (Belgian Dark Strong; 9.2% abv)
  7. Great Lakes Brewing Co.’s Eliot Ness Lager (Vienna Lager; 6.2% abv)
  8. The Lost Abbey’s Cuvee de Tomme (Belgian Dark Strong; 11.0% abv)
  9. Nogne-O/Jolly Pumpkin/Stone Brewing’s Special Holiday Ale (Winter Warmer; 8.5% abv)
  10. Russian River Brewing Co.’s Beatification (American Wild Ale; 5.8% abv)
  11. Brasserie de Blaugies’s Le Moneuse Saison (Saison; 8.0% abv)
  12. The Lost Abbey’s Duck-Duck-Gooze (American Wild Ale; 7.0% abv)
  13. Brouwerij St. Bernardus’s St. Bernardus Wit (Witbier; 5.5% abv)
  14. Deschutes Brewery’s Jubelale (Winter Warmer; 6.7% abv)
  15. Stone Brewing Co.’s Vertical Epic 09.09.09 (Belgian Dark Strong; 8.9% abv)
  16. Allagash Brewing Co.’s White (Witbier; 5.2% abv)
  17. Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ale’s Bam Biere Farhouse Ale (Saison; 4.5% abv)
  18. The Boston Beer Co.’s Samuel Adams Boston Lager (Vienna Lager; 4.7% abv)
  19. Brasserier Caracole’s Nostradamus (Belgian Dark Strong; 9.0% abv)
  20. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.’s Summerfest (Czech Pilsener; 5.0% abv)
  21. Smuttynose Brewing Co.’s Pumpkin Ale (Pumpkin Ale; 6.0% abv)
  22. Left Hand Brewing Co.’s Oktoberfest Marzen Lager (Marzen; 6.0% abv)
  23. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery’s Festina Peche (Berliner Weisse; 4.5% abv)
  24. Birrifico Del Ducato’s Nuova Mattina (Saison; 5.8% abv)
  25. Victory Brewing Co.’s Festbier (Marzen; 5.6% abv)
So what stands out in this list? More than 50% of the entries are Belgian-style beers (Dark Strongs, Sour Ales, Saisons, Wits). Much of the character and complexity you might find in these Belgian-style beers (higher gravity, layering of flavors, dark fruit notes, tartness, etc) are the same characteristics desired in certain popular wine styles.  But its not just limited to complexity from 'Belgian' character - many of WE's selections go through processes that parallel wine making processes: barrel aging, blending, vintage tastings, special reserve releases, etc.  One could even get away with calling some of the above beers 'hybrids' between the beer and wine worlds.  These practices are by no means novel - many of them have been alive and thriving in today's craft beer scene.  But of those beers presented above, the list is almost over-populated with these styles as compared many of the other 'Best of...' lists out there (as an example, only 20% of the WE selections are what the general public would consider “classic” examples – all of them being lagers).

So is there anything wrong with the Wine Enthusiast list? Of course not – I’d be more than happy to be drinking any of the beers listed above. But it made me more conscious of the parallels between flavors, processes, and products of the beer world and the wine world.

As a small anecdote, it has been my experience that these hybrid-type beers are typically the best ‘gateway’ beers for turning wine-drinking friends onto beer. Last year, I was fortunate enough to be in Cleveland for Cleveland Beer Week with a co-worker of mine. The co-worker was pretty much an exclusive wine drinker, but she agreed to humor me by tagging along for a few beer dinners. The dinner that completely changed her perspective of beer was a Jolly Pumpkin beer dinner hosted at Michael Symon’s Lolita Restaurant (Symon of the Iron Chef fame). The complexity and range of flavors in Ron Jeffries’s Belgian-inspired beers were a real eye-opener and changed her perception of beer from just “fizzy and yellow” to “Wow, that’s beer?!?”.  I knew it was a success when she wanted to hit a bottle shop the next day to pick up those she particularly enjoyed.

What do you think? Have you taken any inspiration from the wine world in how you perceive beer?  Are there any selections that didn't make the list that exhibit a wonderful example of the beer/wine hybrid?  We'd love to hear about it.



“Wine gentrifies, beer unifies.”
-W. Scott Griffith

Monday, February 15, 2010

Beer Blogging Friday Session #41 To Be Hosted By Lug Wrench

Just a quick note - it was announced today that the 41st Session (July 2010) of Beer Blogging Friday's (aka "The Session") will be hosted by the Lug Wrench Brewing Co.  We haven't decided on a topic yet for the collaborative blogging event, but we're both excited about the opportunity to host.

As we're discussing possible topics, if you happen to have any suggestions, we'd love to hear them.


-The Wallace Brothers

“It takes Beer to make thirst worthwhile.”
-German Proverb

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Beer: The Spark of Civilization?

Which came first: Beer or Bread? According to a piece entitled "Did a thirst for beer spark civilization?" published last month in The Independent, not only did beer possible come first, but it may have been the reason marauding nomads gave up their wandering in exchange for settlements.

From the Independent article:
Why humans turned from hunting and gathering to agriculture could be the result of our ancestors’ simple urge for alcoholic beverages. “Alcohol provided the initial motivation” said (Patrick) McGovern, a biomolecular archaeologist at the University of Pennsylvania Museum.
Alcoholic beverages have been found to have been made as far back as 9,000 years ago. Using a chew and spit method (where mastication and saliva mash the grain starches into simple sugars), alcoholic potables were made with a mixture of the mashed grains and indigenous fruits. But why did they choose to settle down and begin domestication?  Apparently, it might have come from a desire to stay close to their source of grain.
…They likely would have discovered how to create alcohol by accident. McGovern said perhaps a sprouted grain that had fermented by falling in a pool of water was picked up and eaten. Once consumed, those drops of alcoholic juice would have hit the taster’s brain, causing them to wonder where they could get more.
“A main motivation for settling down and domesticating crops was probably to make an alcoholic beverage of some kind” McGovern concluded.
Whether you buy the theory or not (and it is very much a theory, even in the eyes of McGovern), the premise makes several other ponderous questions surface.  If beer has a central role in agriculture development, what other areas of society were affected?  Was "beer" consumed as just food products for energy's sake or was there conscious effort to consume it for the pleasure of alcohol’s “psychotropic” effects?  What would these "beers" even taste like (unless you’re Sam Calagione, in which case you already have tasted it)?

Circling back to the question of beer vs. bread – according to McGovern, beer would have come first. It would have been much simpler to make. “Humans were only just beginning to cultivate plants, meaning that any bread made at the time would have hardly been the edible loafs we see now.” The details of this theory and McGovern’s research can be found in his book Uncorking the Past: The Quest for Wine, Beer, and Other Alcoholic Beverages.

We’d love to hear your thoughts – does this theory have any validity, or is it just an academic fairy tale?



“Fermentation and civilization are inseparable.”
-John Ciardi

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Oatmeal: 20 Things Worth Knowing About Beer

I’ve been following Mathew Inman’s ‘The Oatmeal’ blog/website for sometime – he has a great dry sense of humor and I’m always amused by his cartoon-y style. While The Oatmeal isn’t a beer-centric site, Matt did a feature on Twenty Things Worth Knowing About Beer. These factoids won’t come as a surprise to most brew enthusiasts, but it’s the manner of how Matt portraits everything that pulls it all together.

In addition to the above, here are a couple non-beer comics from The Oatmeal that are worth checking out:
Enjoy – if you have any suggestions or other beer-related humor sites, please let us know.



“All right brain, I don’t like you and you don’t like me – so let’s just do this and I’ll get back to killing you with beer.”
-Homer Simpson

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Session #36: Kellerbier – Cask Conditioned Lagers

Welcome to The Session – a collaboration of bloggers writing on a common beer-related topic. For February, Thomas Cizauskas over at Yours for Good Fermentables chose Cask-Conditioned Ales as the collective topic to explore. A round-up of all blog posts for this topic can be found here.  You can read more about Beer Blogging Friday (“The Session”) over at the Brookston Beer Bulletin

This month’s Session topic lines right up with an existing blog post that I had been kicking around in the background for some time. As part of our blog’s exploration of Niche Beer Styles, one particular style that I’ve had my eye on for some time was called out during Thomas’s announcement of the topic – “can lagers be cask-conditioned”. The answer: hell yeah! The Germans have been doing it since the Middle Ages in the form of Kellerbier.

Hailing primarily from the Franconian region of German, Kellerbiers are unfiltered, unpasteurized, cask conditioned lagers typically served via gravity pours in local German watering holes. In fact, the style has even been reported to be ranked as one of the most popular beers served in the beer gardens around Bavaria. But this of course begs the question, if it’s so popular over there, why is this German cask beer a relative obscurity here in the States? The reality is Kellerbiers are an unstable beer with a short shelf life and an aversion to traveling. Being unfiltered, the yeast will eventually break down causing the beer to deteriorate. As such, Kellerbier is typically reserved for the local market around the small, local breweries that produce it.

Kellerbiers are brewed to the similar strengths as a Marzen (5-5.5% ABV) resulting in a non-sweet malt character with hints of nuttiness. Liberally dosed with aromatic noble hops, the beer is both balanced and drinkable. After being brewed and completing primary fermentation, Kellerbier is traditionally placed in wooden casks where it lagers and matures for several months at cool temperatures. When ready for distribution, the beer is rolled out and served right from the cask it matured in. The casks are typically left unbunged resulting in minimal carbonation, and, like the other cask beers, it allows the ambient environment to work its way into the cask to add its unique character to the beer. The cask conditioning “mellow-ness” further adds to the beer’s perceived dry, drinkable finish.

The US market rarely sees a traditional Kellerbier – most examples have deviated from authenticity in the trade-off to reach the larger population. The quintessential imported Kellerbier here in North America is probably the St. Georgen Brau Kellerbier, brewed in the Buttnheim brewery since 1624. The St. Georgen Brau beer has been labeled as “a happy medium between authenticity and the dictates of modernity” (BYO, 2005). St. Georgen Brau cask conditions in oak casks the traditional way, but used a modern, oxygen eliminating bottling line to stabilize the product for long distance distribution.

Of course other examples can be found in the US, although most are reserved for limited or special release batches from the brewery or brewpub. Brooklyn Brewery’s Brooklyn Keller Hells, Harpoon’s 100 Barrel Series Kellerbier, and Devils Backbone Brewing Co.’s Natural Born Keller are all examples you could seek out, although you may need a little luck to find them.

For those of us who are of the homebrewing bent, brewing a Kellerbier yourself allows you to enjoy this beer style ‘gem’ while eliminates its biggest deterrents – the short shelf life. As a place to jump off from, we’ve listed below is slightly modified version of a Kellerbier recipe from the November 2005 issue of BYO magazine. Why not give it a try?

Caveman Kellerbier
(5 gallons, all-grain)

OG = 1.056, FG = 1.014, IBU = 35, SRM = 15, ABV = 5.4%

8.0 lbs (3.6 kg) German Pilsner Malt
3.75 lbs (1.7 kg) Munich Malt
2 cups French oak chips (light to medium toast)
8 AAU Hallertauer Mittelfruh or Hersbrucker hop (bittering) (2oz of 4% alpha acid)
1.5 oz Hallertauer Mittelfruh or Hersbruker (flame-out)
Southern German Lager Yeast (i.e. WLP838, Wyeast 2206)

Prior to brew day, make an “oak chip tea” by mixing 2 cups of oak chips to 180°F water. Cover and let it cool off – keep refrigerated at least overnight. Save the oak tea until pitching time.

On brew day, either a traditional multi-step infusion mash (122°F dough in for 30 minutes, 148°F for 15 minutes, 156°F for 15 minutes, 170°F mash-out) or a 152 -154°F single infusion mash should be carried out. Sparge until adequate pre-boil volume (pre-boil gravity should be 1.050). Boil for 90 minutes, adding the bittering addition 15 minutes into the boil. At flame-out, add the aroma/flavor hops. Cool the wort down to pitching temp (48°F). Strain out the oak chips from the tea and add the oak tea into the fermentor. Pitch enough healthy yeast, aerate, and hold the temperature at 48°F for primary fermentation (~2-3 weeks). Rack the beer to a clean carboy and raise the temperature for 2 days to perform a diacetyl rest. Rack the beer again, but do not prime it. Let it mature unpressurized for about two months at typical cellar temperatures. Do not rack again – serve and enjoy.

If you’ve been lucky enough to have a good example of the Kellerbier style, please let us know about it.


-The Wallace Brothers

“Beer…because none of the world’s problems were ever solved with white wine.”
-Karl Wichmann

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Brewing Websites: The Mad Fermentationist

I first heard of Michael Tonsmeire, The Mad Fermentationist when he was a guest on Basic Brewing a couple of years ago. I was struck by the level of "geekyness" that Michael exhibited during that interview, and in subsequent ones. All of us homebrewers are geeky in our own ways. Some people really enjoy making their own equipment, some like to explore styles or clone commercial beer, but Michael's passion is one of the most basic and fundamental parts of our hobby - yeast and bacteria. These microscopic organisms convert naturally-occurring or artificially-created sugars into alcohol and are the basic building blocks for beer and other fermented beverages.

The Mad Fermentationist blog is an entertaining and insightful look at anything fermentable. This includes anything from sourdough bread, to brett, to kombucha. Michael's particular interest is in homebrewing sour beer. He has a variety of posts that outline homebrewing methods that range from using commercially available sour bacteria, to growing cultures from the dregs of bottle-conditioned beer, to using cultures impregnated in full-size oak barrels.

While I have not personally brewed a sour beer, I find the information that Michael presents very interesting. Some of my favorite posts include:
  • Brewing Sour Beer at Home - This post is a compilation of the "how to" homebrew sour beer articles that Michael has posted over the last three years.
  • Testing the Alcohol Content of Ice Concentrated Beer - Ever think that some people are beyond obsessed? This post shows how crazy a homebrewer's analysis lab can become.
  • Wine Barrel Flanders Red - This post is one of several about Michael's group of friends that age sour beers in full-sized oak barrels. Check out this follow-on post and it's time-lapse video. Very cool.
  • Bourbon Barrel Wee Heavy - Another one of of Michael's full barrel experiments, though this one was intended to not become sour. Unfortunately, it soured after about a year, most likely because it was located directly next to the Flanders Red barrel.
  • 11 Different Sugars - This post is just one of several that Michael has done on different brewing sugars.
  • Recipe Compendium - This post provides links to the recipes that Michael has posted over the years.
I encourage you to check out the wealth of information found on The Mad Fermentationist site. Hopefully, you will find it as insightful and informative as I have found it.
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