Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wort Pump in a Toolbox #2 - Parts List

Following up on the initial post for our series on building a toolbox mounted wort pump, the next post focused on the required parts list for the project.  There are a couple of things to keep in mind when reviewing the parts list:
  • It does not include the tools needed to complete the build.  It is likely that the reader owns many of these tools already (drill, drill bits, screw drivers, wrenches, wire cutters, wire trimmers, etc.).  
  • The parts list also does not include miscellaneous extra build items, such as some scrap lumber, wire staples, and wire nuts.  The specific tool box and layout used in the build will determine the need for these items.
  • The prices listed are those I found at the time of the build.  They will vary by location and will likely change over time
The most important thing to do when starting any project, such as this toolbox-mounted wort pump, is to plan it out before starting.  Sketch out what the build will look like and use those conceptual diagrams to help build the parts list.  Hopefully, the information presented in this series, and the BYO article it was based on, will flush out your plans and make your build go smoother.

The other important thing to consider is to customize the wort pump build to your brewing system.  This build included the features that I desired for the wort pump - extra electrical outlet, portability, ease of hose changes, etc.  This build could easily be changed to make it smaller, part of a permanent installation, or include extra features.  Spending a little time thinking of how the pump will be used in your brewery, and what features would be useful, can go a long way towards ensuring the pump will see use for years to come.

Parts List

DescriptionMerchantPart #QuantityPrice/UnitTotal
March 809HS-PL PumpAustin Homebrew
1/2" NPT Female-Male Yellow Brass Ball ValveMcMaster4629K43
1/2" Female Yellow Brass 90 degree ElbowsMcMaster5078K38
1/2" NPT Male -> Male Yellow Brass Quick DisconnectMcMaster6739K59
1/2" Hose Barb -> Female Yellow Brass Quick DisconnectMcMaster6739K64
Silicone Tubing (by foot)Austin HomebrewH985
4' 1/2 Copper Tube - used to make "J" returnLowes
Solderable 1/2" Pipe -> 1/2" NPT Female Brass FittingLowes
1/2" Hose Worm ClampsLowes
1" Hose Worm Clamps - used to hold copper ends togetherLowes
Tool BoxLowes
Metal Electrical Box (single gang)Lowes
Heavy-Duty Extension Chord - 6 or 8 feetLowes
Standard PlugLowes
Low Profile Electrical SwitchLowes
Plastic Electrical CoversLowes
Bags of Bolts and Locking Nuts/Washers for Metal BoxesLowes
Plastic Coat Hooks - used to hold wound extension chordLowes
4" Metal Worm ClampLowes

Other posts in this series include:


    Monday, March 29, 2010

    Fun with Art: Meat Sections

    One of the non-beer related blogs I've been enjoying for a couple month's now is Alyson Thomas's Meat Sections blog.  The concept for her blog is amusing to say the least.  Each day, Alyson draws/paints an illustration/painting in the style of a butcher's meat section diagram (you know the type - here's the loin, here's the roast, etc).  But the subject matter of each piece can be very different and she really lets her creativity run loose with it.

    I'm a big fan of the beers coming out of The Bruery (Placentia, CA), so I was stoked when Alyson chose to do a piece inspired by The Bruery's Melange No. 6, which she tasted during the 2010 San Fransisco Beer Week.  The Melange Series is The Bruery's one-off, experimental beer line, with the sixth installment being a potent ale with all the the ingredients displayed in Alyson's illustration.

    The above just scratches the surface - if you have a second, take a look at some of the other deconstructed subjects Alyson has done.  Here are a couple of non-beer related pieces that I personally got a chuckle and a smirk out of:
    Kudos to you Alyson!

    If you happen across any other amusing beer (or food) artistic websties in your travels through the internet, please let us know!



    "A meal of bread, cheese and beer constitutes the perfect food."
    -Queen Elizabeth I 

    Thursday, March 25, 2010

    Poll: How Long Have You Been Homebrewing

    With the conclusion of our most recent blog poll, it was worthwhile to report back and memorialize the results we recieved.  Based on the question: "How long have you been homebrewing?", presented below is the relative experience of the readers who participated...

    Total Votes: 13

    I have to admit that I was a little surprised by the distribution of the votes towards fewer years of experience.  Thinking about it now, I'm not sure why I had that impression.  But I would also take these results as a very possitive sign for the hobby; recent years have seen an influx of new individuals who are starting to homebrew.  More homebrewers means more resources, more collective intelligence, and a louder voice. 

    What also amuses me about the results is the fact that Tom and I represent the bookends of this range.  One of us has been at it for just about a year and the other is pushing into his second decade of brewing.  I'll leave it up to the readers to figure out who is who.



    "A wise son brings joy to his father, but the wiser son brings beer."
    -Mad Mordigan

    Monday, March 22, 2010

    Clipper City Brewing Tour - Baltimore, MD

    Given the number of small breweries and brewpubs that span the United States, there are a great number of them that Lug Wrench readers have previously not encountered.  To help explore some of these breweries and draw attention to the myriad of beers they make, Lug Wrench would like to introduce an series of posts on local breweries, ones that Jeff and I have the opportunity to explore and report on.  The posts will focus on the individual brewery, its beers, and any themes that define the brewery and set it apart.  The posts may include follow on interviews with the brewers, where we can get that information.  Clipper City Brewing Company, from Baltimore, MD, will start the series off.

    My wife surprised me with a beer-related day of activities for my birthday this year.  The day included lunch at Du Claw Brewing Company and dinner at the Dogfish Head Ale House in Gaithersburg, MD.  Sandwiched in-between these two wonderful culinary experiences, was a tour of Clipper City Brewing Company, which is located on the southern side of Baltimore.  Clipper City beer has been a staple at my household for a couple of years now, since my wife discovered Loose Cannon, which has become her all time favorite beer.  Thus, we had a great deal of excitement upon discovering that Clipper City gave tours, just a few short hours away from home.

    Clipper City Brewing Company was founded in 1994 by Hugh J. Sisson.  Hugh is a sixth generation Baltimoriean and has been involved in the city's brewing industry since the mid-1980s.  In 1987, Hugh and others lobbied the Maryland General Assembly to pass legislation that made brew pubs legal in the state.  He first worked in Sisson's, located in Federal Hill, which he left in 1994 to found Clipper City Brewing Company.  Clipper City's beers are marketed under the Heavy Seas label, which includes its 4 to 6% ABV ales - the Clipper Fleet, its stronger 7 to 8% ales - the Pyrate Fleet, and its strongest ales (greater than 8%) - the Mutiny Fleet.  Heavy Seas beers are distributed in bottle and draft across the Eastern third of the country.  Besides Hugh, Clipper City employs, Ernesto Ingot, Brewmaster, and Kurt Krol and Chris Mallon as brewers.

    The tour began with Hugh providing a theatrical reading of slightly-modified version of the Lord's Prayer, where beer plays a very prominent role (something akin to the text found here).  As it turns out, Hugh has a masters degree in theater from the University of Virginia.  He also outlined the beers produced under the Heavy Seas line and provided a history of the brewery.  The tour itself covered all aspects of brewing operations and lasted for over an hour and a half.  There are pictures at the bottom of the post.

    There were a couple of notable things we learned about Clipper City, while there.  First was that they provide a wonderful and informative tour.  Hugh detailed all parts of the brewing process, including ingredient selection by actually handing out hops and grain.  It is amazing what one one can learn by tasting and smelling raw ingredients.  He explained how the actual brew day progresses with understandable analogies that the non-beer geek could understand.  He discussed packaging and why no one should ever drink beer directly from the bottle (basically the bit of oxidized foam on the rim of the bottle, underneath the cap, tastes horrid).  Hugh's persona and what could be best called stage-presence, made it all entertaining and highly informative.

    The other take home message was the importance of the Baltimore community to the brewery.  Clipper City is named after the clipper class of ships, which was invented in Baltimore.  The brewery hosts the local homeberwing club and an annual homebrewing competition, called The Letter of Marque.  Hugh hosts a weekly radio program about beer on the local radio station WYPR, and has been active on many brewing and other fronts in his community.  The brewery's community and local brewery focus was extremely apparent throughout the tour.

    If you ever find yourself near Baltimore, I highly recommend a trip to Clipper City for an entertaining tour and tasting some quality beer.



    Hugh describing different types of malt, and passing out samples

    The Clipper City brew deck

    A VERY healthy fermentation . . .

    The Clipper City bottle filler

    The end result, great bottled beer (pictured here is Loose Cannon)

    And . . . the medals to show they are good at what they do (including medals from the Governor's Cup, the Great American Beer Festival, and the World Beer Cup)

    Thursday, March 18, 2010

    2009 Breweries Per Capita – Ranking by State

    The recent attention from media outlets on the 2010 U.S. Census got me pondering the topic of beer-related demographics – specifically breweries and brewpubs. Where are all of these breweries and brewpubs distributed throughout the country? Are there some areas of the country that have more than others? Certainly.  Some states just outnumber other states in terms of breweries or brewpubs. But simply looking at the absolute numbers doesn’t really tell the story. Sure California has the most brewing establishments in the US, but isn’t it also the most populated state? So what matters more: shear numbers or some other measure?

    In order to get a better idea about how these breweries/brewpubs are patterned throughout the US, I decided to calculate out the breweries per capita numbers for each state – the number of brewing establishment per 100,000 residents. By taking the number of breweries in each state and dividing it out by the 2009 US Consensus estimates, I arrived at the data presented below. (It should be noted that the term ‘brewery’ in this post will refer to both breweries and brewpubs, and the term ‘state’ refers to the 50 US states plus the District of Columbia)

    While this ‘Per Capita’ method has its faults (for example, states with smaller populations get a positive bias), by normalizing the data in such a fashion, it makes it possible to gauge the presence of breweries within a particular state, independent of population. While Vermont (#1) and Alaska (#5) have small populations (less than 1 million residents), these states have between three and four times as many breweries/brewpubs per capita than such venerated state as California (#18). This means that establishments in Vermont and Alaska have one-third to one-quarter of the local resources (patrons, employees, supplies, etc) as many other states, but these brewing operations are still able to thrive. Why is this? Probably because of strong, accommodating communities within the states that embrace beer culture - states like Oregon (#2), Colorado (#6), and Washington (#8) certainly exemplify this.

    Of course, these data have to be taken with a proverbial grain of malt. Are these data definitive in sorting out which states have the best beer cultures in the US? Of course not. It’s merely another way to slice the information and examine how different parts of the country foster and support brewery-based businesses. If nothing else, its just plain fun to sift through stats looking at which states beat which states.

    Ok, enough long-winded musing - here’s the data…

    Top 5 ‘Brewery Per Capita’ States for 2009
    1. Vermont (#1)      2.734 breweries per 100,000 residents
    2. Oregon (#2)        2.640 breweries per 100,000 residents
    3. Montana (#3)      2.564 breweries per 100,000 residents
    4. Maine (#4)          2.503 breweries per 100,000 residents
    5. Alaska (#5)         2.148 breweries per 100,000 residents

    Worst 5 ‘Brewery Per Capita’ States for 2009
    1. Mississippi (#51)       0.034 breweries per 100,000 residents
    2. Alabama (#50)          0.085 breweries per 100,000 residents
    3. Arkansas (#49)         0.138 breweries per 100,000 residents
    4. Kentucky (#48)         0.139 breweries per 100,000 residents
    5. North Dakota (#47)  0.155 breweries per 100,000 residents

    If one compares the per capita rates from 2009 with those of 2008, there is some jockeying of the positions. The top 10 states see only one change - Oregon (#2), which clawed up and flip-flopped positions with Montana (#3). The bigger changes can be seen further back in the pack.

    Biggest Positive Movers from 2008 to 2009
    1. Indiana               (up to #20 in 2009 from #27 in 2008)
    2. West Virginia     (up to #37 in 2009 from #44 in 2008)
    3. North Carolina   (up to #27 in 2009 from #32 in 2008)

    Biggest Negative Movers from 2008 to 2009
    1. Kansas              (down to #30 in 2009 from #24 in 2008)
    2. Nevada             (down to #19 in 2009 from #14 in 2008)
    3. South Carolina   (down to #39 in 2009 from #35 in 2008)
    4. Arkansas           (down to #49 in 2009 from #45 in 2008)

    And on a personal note, I’m very pleased to see that Lug Wrench’s ‘facility’ in Rhode Island (#31) beat out the Lug Wrench ‘facility’ in Virginia (#34). So how about a big “neener neener neener” to you folks down in Virginia, Tom. : )

    2009 Breweries Per Capita - Ranking by State
    2009 Rank 2008 Rank State Breweries/
    2009 State Population Breweries Per 100,000
    1 1 Vermont 17 621,760 2.734
    2 3 Oregon 101 3,825,657 2.640
    3 2 Montana 25 974,989 2.564
    4 4 Maine 33 1,318,301 2.503
    5 5 Alaska 15 698,473 2.148
    6 6 Colorado 104 5,024,748 2.070
    7 7 Wyoming 10 544,270 1.837
    8 8 Washington 113 6,664,195 1.696
    9 9 Wisconsin 80 5,654,774 1.415
    10 10 Idaho 21 1,545,801 1.359
    11 15 Delaware 10 885,122 1.130
    12 11 New Hampshire 14 1,324,575 1.057
    13 12 Nebraska 16 1,796,6190.891
    14 13 New Mexico 16 2,009,671 0.796
    15 17 Michigan 77 9,969,727 0.772
    16 16 Hawaii 9 1,295,178 0.695
    17 20 Iowa 20 3,007,856 0.665
    18 18 California 238 36,961,664 0.644
    19 14 Nevada 17 2,643,085 0.643
    20 27 Indiana 41 6,423,113 0.638
    21 19 Massachusetts 42 6,593,587 0.637
    22 25 Missouri 38 5,987,580 0.635
    23 21 South Dakota 5 812,383 0.615
    24 23 Utah 17 2,784,572 0.611
    25 22 Pennsylvania 75 12,604,767 0.595
    26 26 Arizona 35 6,595,778 0.531
    27 32 North Carolina 49 9,380,884 0.522
    28 28 Minnesota 27 5,266,214 0.513
    29 29 Distr. of Columbia 3 599,657 0.500
    30 24 Kansas 14 2,818,747 0.497
    31 31 Rhode Island 5 1,053,209 0.475
    32 34 Maryland 27 5,699,478 0.474
    33 30 Connecticut 16 3,518,288 0.455
    34 33 Virginia 32 7,882,590 0.406
    35 36 Ohio 44 11,542,645 0.381
    36 37 Illinois 45 12,910,409 0.349
    37 44 West Virginia 6 1,819,777 0.330
    38 38 New York 63 19,541,453 0.322
    39 35 South Carolina 14 4,561,242 0.307
    40 39 Oklahoma 10 3,687,050 0.271
    41 43 Tennessee 17 6,296,254 0.270
    42 40 New Jersey 20 8,707,739 0.230
    4341 Florida 41 18,537,969 0.221
    4442 Louisiana 9 4,492,076 0.200
    45 49 Georgia 16 9,829,211 0.163
    46 48 Texas 39 24,782,302 0.157
    47 47 North Dakota 1 646,844 0.155
    48 46 Kentucky 6 4,314,113 0.139
    49 45 Arkansas 4 2,889,450 0.138
    50 50 Alabama 4 4,708,708 0.085
    51 51 Mississippi 1 2,951,996 0.034
    The number of breweries/brewpubs was taken from Beer Advocate’s BeerFly Directory. State populations were taken from the 2009 US Census estimates.

    If you’ve braved it all the way down to the bottom of this post, please take a moment and let us know how your state did.



    “The pub has always been much more than just a tavern – it is a clubhouse, a meeting place, a community center.”
    -Anthony Dias Blue

    Monday, March 15, 2010

    Alcohol By Volume Ranges By Beer Style

    Below is the last Style Chart in the series demonstrates the comparitive Alcohol By Volume (ABV) ranges for each of the BJCP Beer Styles. As was described in the first Stlye Chart posting, this project started out as a simple impulse, but turned into a series of graphical charts demonstrating how each BJCP style compare 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 Beer Style Charts:
    Please click here for a higher resolution PDF of this or any of the charts.  I'm more than happy to share them.
    "I am a firm believer in the people.  If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis.  The great point is to bring them the real facts, and beer."
    -Abraham Lincoln

    Thursday, March 11, 2010

    Results from Single Hop Beer Experiment #1

    A month or two ago, my local homebrew club, the Rhode Island Fermentation Technicians (RIFT) decided to undertake a Single Hop Beer Experiment. As described in an earlier post on this blog, this exercise asks each brewer to brew the same American pale ale recipe, but each with a different single hop.  Volunteers got to choose which hop variety they wanted to use on a first-come, first-serve basis.  Not surprisingly, Centennial, Amarillo, and Cascade were the first hops to be 'signed out'.

    By having only a single hop in each beer, the resulting brew exhibits the characteristic aroma and flavor of the selected hop variety.  It provided an excellent tasting opportunity, as tasting them side-by-side is a great way to judge the similarities and differences of each variety.

    For the RIFT Single Hop Beer event, seven volunteers brewed beers with seven different hop varieties, with the beers being tasted during the February club meeting.  Fellow clubmember Tom H. took notes from the tasting and posted the results on his blog, “And Another Thing…”. Tom H.’s summary notes are reproduced below.

    Willamette - "Inoffensive"
    Bitterness: Not discernable
    Flavor: Like flowers
    Aroma: No real aroma
    Overall: Session beer

    US Goldings - "Tea- Like"
    Bitterness: Not discernable
    Flavor: Tea-like flavors
    Aroma: Tea and floral aromas
    Overall: Another good session beer

    Northern Brewer - "Evil"
    (What can I say Jeff? You weren't here and made us work!)
    Bitterness: Some bitterness, the most so far.
    Flavor: Crisp
    Aroma: Minty
    Overall: Tastes like an Anchor Steam

    Cascade - "American"
    Bitterness: The bitterness pops up in the finish
    Flavor: Oranges, some Ivory soap in the finish
    Aroma: Caramel (this ale was darker than the others), Cascade
    Overall: Well integrated, balanced, what you think an American Ale should taste like

    Amarillo - "Citrusy"
    Bitterness: Clean bitter finish
    Flavor: Grapefruit, some Orange, Tropical Fruits, Mangoes
    Aroma: Subtle
    Overall: First 'hop forward' beer of the bunch, a little more carbonated, nice

    Centennial - "Coppery"
    Bitterness: Smooth
    Flavor: Subtle evergreen, earthy, piney,
    Aroma: Malty, subtle
    Overall: Nicely integrated, copper ale type notes

    Summit - "Wow"
    Bitterness: Pronounced bitterness
    Flavor: Strong Piney Flavor
    Aroma: Big Piney nose,
    Overall: Bordering on IPA, hop forward taste with a big hoppy finish.
    As Tom H. eludes to in his notes, I was unfortunately not able to attend the tasting, as I was out of town on business. However, I did receive a bottle of each single hop beer and I was able to work through them after the meeting (tough job, eh?). All the beers came out very drinkable, each having its own unique hop character (as indicated above). The beer that stood out the most different was the Summit hopped beer. Summit has this garlic/onion/herbal quality that shines through fairly strong in the beer along with its bitterness (great beer to try cooking with!). This results in a very unique tasting experience that sets the beer apart from all the other more ‘traditional’ hop flavors.
    Overall, the Single Hop Beer Experiment was a great success amongst the participants (brewers and tasters).  While it is inevitable that there will be flavor contributions from each brewer's personal brewing process and therefore the flavor differences cannot be attributed totally to the hop varieties, it was still very clear the hops made a remarkable difference in each beer.  In addition to allowing tasters to target their palates with these hop flavors, it was just plain enjoyable to taste the entire flight – we will definitely return to the concept and do it again in the future.

    Have any other clubs out there tried similar experiments?  If so, please post a comment and let us know your club's experience and what, if anything, could be done to improve upon the event.
    “Ah, beer. The cause and solution to all of life’s problems”
    -Homer Simpson

    Monday, March 8, 2010

    Nanobreweries - How Small is Small?

    Anyone that has been homebrewing for some time has had delusions at some point of owning their own commercial brewery.   But the jump from 5 gallon cornies to 10 barrel conicals is quite a gap to jump.  This is where the concept of the nanobrewery was born and has been gaining legs in the American craft beer scene within the past few years. A nanobrewery is basically an extremely small-scale brewery that only distributes its beer to the local market (i.e. local bars and bottle shops).

    Nanobreweries, from a legal standpoint, are still commercial breweries.  Therefore, they have to go through federal and state licensing processes, get approval for labels, etc. in order to distribute their products. The work it takes to get all the approvals and permits may seem daunting for such a small output, but there is also relatively little capital investment. This allows brewers to take a "see how it goes" approach and grow organically. So, what are some of the aspects of planning a nanobrewery?  Lets take a look . . .

    Equipment - Most nanobreweries operate on homebrew-sized equipment, or perhaps something a little larger. This seems natural as many nanobreweries grow out of an extremely dedicated homebrewer’s setup. As such, the actual brewing systems are varied, ranging from converted kegs on propane burners to full brewing sculptures. Hell, Sam Calagione started bring on a 10 gallon system when he founded Dogfish Head, and look how far they have come. The most important thing to keep in mind when selecting equipment is to make it as large and automated as possible, while still fitting in the budget.  The amount of time it takes to brew 10 gallons versus 20 gallons is not that different, but it provides double the beer output. Anything that  can be done to make the process smoother will pay dividends in the long run, especially if demand for the beer takes off.

    Licenses and Permits - Given that a nanobrewery exists to sell beer, it does not qualify for the federal excise tax exemption offered to homebrewers by Section 5053(e) of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC). This means that nanobrewery owners must follow all regulations relating to brewing and must pay excise tax on the beer they produce. Additionally, any beer that is removed from the brewery for consumption must contain the government health warning statement and be properly labeled according to the provisions of the Federal Alcohol Administration Act (27 U.S.C 205). These regulations and all of the federal and state permits and paperwork can certainly be cumbersome, so aspiring nanobrewers should make sure to allot plenty of time to complete them.

    Distribution is probably one of the biggest legal and operational huddles a nascent nanobrewery needs to overcome in order to make it.  Many states have very specific rules on how beer can be distributed and some prevent self-distribution all together (i.e. three-tier systems).  Researching the specific laws and regulations for the particular market is essential.  Pulling in a third-party lawyer may increase the start-ups costs, but nothing can scuttle an operation like having inventory sitting around without being able to sell it.

    Legal Issue Links
    Qualifying as a brewer -
    Determining and paying taxes -
    TTB's frequently asked questions page -

    Knowing the Local Market - Most nanobreweries sell very locally. The beer is usually kegged and goes to local bars and beer stores. This requires the nanobrewery owner to market his or her own beers and usually distribute them personally. Take the time to find a half a dozen or more accounts who are interested in buying the beer.  This usually involves specialty beer bars with multiple taps.  There is usually an all out war for tap handle space, so the bar with four or five handles won’t give up a national brand in order to make room for a new local beer.  Tap houses or beer bars with 15 or more taps, on the other hand, are always looking for something new and interesting.

    This type of market assessment and pre-planning can help the nanobrewer avoid all the effort to get the microbrewery going and have nowhere to sell the beer. Make sure to quantify each account's consumption rate and make sure the nanobrewer can meet the demand if it spikes. For example, if a particular bar takes a shine to the nanobrewery’s beer and starts moving it quickly, that nanobrewer better have the capacity to meet that demand, otherwise it is a missed opportunity.

    Gaining the power of grassroots interest behind a nanobrewery’s beer can also be important.  Distributors and vendors are much more likely to give time and shelf space to a product if customers are asking for it.  Small beer festivals, interactions with homebrew clubs, and cozying up to craft beer writers all have the potential to build a fan base for a good product.

    Further Information - The above information only scratches the surface of starting up a nanobrewery operation.  Still interested in learning more?  The links below are a great place to start.

    Listings of Nanobreweries

    Building a Nanobrewery

    We’re all thinking/dreaming about doing it  - if anyone out there has actually done it or is in the process of opening a nanobrewery, please let us know how it is going!  Also, please let us know of any additional resources that others might find useful.



    Friday, March 5, 2010

    The Session #37: When To Drink The Good Stuff

    Welcome to The Session – a collaboration of bloggers writing on a common beer-related topic. For March, Greg Norris over at The Ferm chose “The Display Shelf: When To Drink The Good Stuff” 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.

    Let’s face it, we all have at least one – an uber special bottle hidden away. We guard it. We brag about it. But when do we actually drink it? There’s this drawn-out enjoyment of holding onto that special treasure; a lingering anticipation for the day it will be sampled.  But the build-up can overshadow the contents of the bottle.  So much so that finding the appropriate moment to memorialize this treasured brew can take on a life of its own.

    If we peel back the layers of this materialistic obsession, it seems as if we are more afraid to lose our prize then to actually enjoy it – only the most memorable occasions are worth breaking it's seal. Is this how its supposed to be?  No. The priority should be just the opposite: to celebrate the event, not the bottle.  Celebrate being surrounded by good friends and family. Celebrate making it through the day without getting a flat tire.  Just celebrate.

    There is a scene from the movie Sideways that examplifies this misdirected obsession we can all be guilty of.  Paul Giamatti’s character, a depressed wine aficionado, has a cherished bottle of 1961 Chateau Cheval Blanc wine (valued at >$1000 per bottle) that he has been holding onto for a monumental occasion – an occasion his life has yet to yield. He laments about finding the right occasion that would justify uncorking such a bottle. In the end, the main female lead convinces him that just possessing such a treasure is reason enough to celebrate.  Nothing more is needed to justify opening and enjoying it. This thread in the movie ends with the scene of Giamatti sitting alone in a no-name fast food joint drinking the ultra expensive wine out of a foam coffee cup.  And his character couldn't be more content. 

    Family and friends have always been a staple reason for celebrating. As many readers may know, the two authors of this blog are brothers who, unfortunately, live more than 500 miles from each other. Due to this geographical handicap, only once or twice a year are we able to get the families together and question why we really do live so far apart. But during these visits, we live it up. We break out the goodies from our cellars. Old, new, good, bad – it all comes out to be shared with the best of friends. Neither of us live affluent lifestyles, but it’s during these visits that we get to experience some of the true treasures of life.

    It’s also inevitable that we strive to get in a brew session during these visits (much to the chagrin of our wives) as a means to collaborate and brew up a souvenir. Not only is there enjoyment in the actual brewing, but the fruits of the labor give us something hold onto and cherish. We typically focus on higher gravity, cellar-squatter type beers for these sessions, as the intent is to lay them down for a long period of time – to add them to the library of 'Good Stuff' that we’ll raid and taste the next time we are fortunate enough to be in the same town again.

    How to sum up this little rant: life is about the experiences and memories that are accumulated along the way, not the material possessions - celebrate those moments whenever you can.


    -The Wallace Brothers

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

    Thursday, March 4, 2010

    Original and Final Gravity Ranges By Beer Style Chart

    The third Style Chart in the series demonstrates the comparitive Original and Final Gravity ranges for each of the BJCP Beer Styles.  As was described in the first Stlye Chart posting, this project started out as a simple impulse, but turned into a series of graphical charts demonstrating how each BJCP style compare 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 Beer Style Charts in the series (all links will be updated when the respective charts are posted)"
    Please click here for a higher resolution PDF's of this chart or any other chart in the series - I'm more than happy to share them.



    "We drink all we can.  The rest we sell."
    -Utica Club Brewery

    Tuesday, March 2, 2010

    Dragon's Breath Collaboration Beer Gets A Bronze

    The results of the 2010 Boston Homebrew Competition (BHC) were announced this weekend and Lug Wrench Brewing was elated that our Dragon’s Breath collaboration beer placed third in the Specialty Beer category (out of 18 entries).

    Dragon’s Breath, which was a clone recipe of New Holland Brewing’s Dragon’s Milk, was a collaboration beer brewed back in July 2009 at our Rhode Island “facility”. The full recipe and background to the beer can be found in one of our prior blog postings.



    "Drink is the feast of reason and the flow of soul."
    -Alexander Pope
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