Friday, November 30, 2007

Brewhouse Flexibility

How is it that life usually seems to get in the way of my brew plans? Last nights brew got sidelined due to the fact that I found out at 4:00 PM Thursday that I would need to make an unscheduled trip up to our Winooski office Friday morning to meet up with our engineers to coordinate deployment of our new soft switch which happened to arrive four days ahead of schedule. You are probably asking yourself, What the hell does this have to do with making beer?
In a nut shell: Timing.
I would have started running around like a madman as soon as I got home from the office last night. It wouldn't have ended until sometime Saturday afternoon between my other obligations. As a result I have pushed back the brew to Saturday when I will have a relaxing opportunity to spend some time down in the brewery. Brian stopped by last night so we did manage get the Alt and Stout racked. He also completed an updated Hops inventory. Three out of five is pretty good. Not to self: Get more hops!
So as it turns out my trip to Winooski got derailed this morning, and I'll now be headed up Tuesday. The upside to all this is that managed to get my ipod working again in anticipation for the car ride North.
Life is funny.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

A hop shortage of a different sort

It would seem that my hop stash is getting low. I was down in the brewery last night getting the materials together for the House Pale Ale and discovered that I only had an ounce of Challenger hops in the freezer. Looks like I'm going to have to mix it up a little bit, as my stash is dwindling. So tonight I'll be brewing the Pale ale with Northern Brewers for the late additions.
The yeast starter that I put together Tuesday night isn't really doing a whole lot right now. I'm probably going to ditch it tonight if there isn't any krausen in the vessel.
Here's what needs to get done tonight:
  • Brew the Pale Ale
  • Rack the Chocolate Stout to secondary fermentation
  • Rack the Alt to final packaging
  • Finalize the grist for the maximum capacity brew
  • Take hop inventory

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Brew Schedule flexibility

I put together a yeast starter last night for a Belgian Strong Ale. The yeast had an expiration date on it of 11/30/06. While it is almost a year old, I'm going to try and harvest what is left, and try to step up a nice starter for an upcoming batch of beer. Ideally I would like to brew it this Thursday night, but given the potential high starting gravity of this beer (>1.080). I may need to rethink my plans.
Between the year old yeast and the high gravity of this beer, there will be limited margin for error in regards to pitching enough healthy viable yeast to start fermentation.
With that said, I may end up brewing the house pale ale Thursday night and save the Belgian strong ale for sometime next week. The fermenters will finally be at maximum capacity.
A kind word of thanks to those of you who have offered me solutions on my carboy dilemma.
May beer karma be with you.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Other fun with fermentation

We made Bagels Sunday morning. Well, actually we started the bagels Saturday night. Let them rest in the fridge overnight and then finished them off in some boiling water and a hot oven Sunday morning.
Uncle Hank was visiting from Boston so he joined us, as well as an impromptu visit from Suzanne and Astrid.
Grace is patiently watching the bagels as they bake.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

A night out with Stanley

I spent the day Friday working over at the Mountain. I managed to enjoy myself despite playing the roll of traffic cop. I just don't understand what the story is with people today. What gives with the lack of respect on the mountain? Heck while we are at it, anywhere for that matter. What is the issue with people insofar as an inability to respect one another? Okay, rant over. Moving on, I had a chance to hang out with Gus Friday night. He is one of my oldest friends, in fact one of the few people that I still stay in contact with. After spending some QT with him this weekend, I decided that we really need to hang out more often now that are children are getting older, and it's getting easier to travel with them.
Anyway, he wants me to bring some beer to his son Charlie's B-day party. I'm seriously considering a road trip to Red Bank.

Friday, November 23, 2007


The Havilands stayed for a pancake breakfast on Thanksgiving morning before heading off to West Dover to spend the remainder of the holiday with Tina's sister and her husband. After breakfast we parted ways. I left Isabel at home to enjoy some peace and quiet for her birthday while the girls and I headed to Greenfield for some hijinx and mayhem with the Rose & Stoll Families.
It was a fabulous dinner. I felt like a sap due to the fact that my beer supplied is temporarily dried up. Yes, I'm still out of beer. Sounds crazy, but it's true. I have nothing on tap. The fermenters are full, and my taps are dry. This is all by design, in order for me to ramp back up to capacity. I may have mentioned that before. Oh, how I long to be at maximum capacity, but for now, I'll be happy at maximum density from all the Turkey I consumed.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Rowdies from Redbank

Gus, Tina, Charlie and Stanley came for a Pre-Thanksgiving visit last night. Shannon came over to watch the children while the adults adjourned to McNeill's for copious amounts of beer. It has been almost three years since I last saw Gus & Tina. Actually probably more like four years since this was the first time I met their lovely children.
We are off to Greenfield for some Thanksgiving fun with my wifes side of the family today.
Gobble Gobble!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Tuesday Evening brewing with B

Brian came over tonight We brewed the chocolate stout that I mentioned last week. I'm not real big on cloning beers but the Rogue's chocolate stout has quickly become a favorite with friends and family. We nailed the gravity, but fell a tad short on volume. Life goes on. Next week: Something Belgian!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

First snow today

It's snowing out today. It's always a treat to enjoy the first snow storm of the year. There is already about an inch on the ground. Word on the street is that it's supposed to turn into freezing rain this afternoon. Ahh! Classic New England weather.
Click here to see the latest view from the train station in Bellows Falls. When prompted for a login and password type in "guest" for login. There is no password, so just hit enter.
Yes, I did see my first snow related car accident on the way into work today. It was a pickup truck flipped over on it's roof.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The great GF experiment

I'm in the process of designing a Gluten Free beer. Presently Isabel and I have been sampling different GF beers to get a feel for what one might come to expect from a beer made without malt. Last night we sampled two such beers. The first was Green's Endeavor brewed by Green's Gluten Free beers and the second was Redbridge brewed by Anheuser Busch. You may read my BA reviews if you click on the above links. I will say that these beers were very interesting, and it may take a few runs in order to get something that is going to taste good. I have a few more GF beers to sample tonight. I'll report back with my findings in an effort to come up with a good tasting GF beer. I've been thinking that a Berliner Weissbier might be the way to go here as far as finding the right fit. The sour taste of the Berliner Weisse may offset the sweetness that seems to come along with these beers. I think this path would be better served rather then concocting a hop bomb to balance it out.
Speaking of sour Gus will be arriving with his family for a short visit Wednesday night. It's been ages since I have seen him and his family. They are headed up here to Vermont for a long weekend.
I guess I should get on the phone now and let Alfred know that his favorite boy will be in town.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Making turns and cutting down trees

I got my first day of the season in today working the Rescue gig over at the Mountain. Schuey and I spent most of the day cutting down trees and dragging them back into the woods. Actually Dave did most of the cutting and I did most of the dragging. He's an expert with the chainsaw. I did manage to get some turns in during the day which was an absolute hoot. The new fan guns and the snow-makers did a wicked good job of making some really nice snow. Gotta embrace technology. It's nice to be back at the mountain.
This week will surely rip by at mach speed.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Ask and you shall receive

I was discussing my carboy dilemma with a coworker yesterday, and she suggested I borrow one of hers. I am so totally hooked up. So, this Tuesday night I'm going to brew up a clone. I'm not one to usually try and clone beers, but friends and family have been raving about the Rogue Chocolate Stout. I'll let you know how it turns out. I have a suspicion if it turns out well, that this beer will turn into one of my standard brews.

This will be the penultimate beer into fermentation in my brewery for the time being. One more after this and I'm at maximum fermentation capacity.
Clicky, clicky the ads to support my brewery.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Operation: shoal the vessels.

My brewery is approaching maximum capacity. With continued hard work I may achieve this goal and actually build up an incredible stock of beer. In fact in order for me to actually reach maximum capacity, I would actually need to scale back on my next batch, otherwise I'll be beyond my maximum capacity for fermentation. With that said I really could use another carboy, since I destroyed one by accident back in April. Please contact me if you would like to sponsor my brewery and have a five or six gallon carboy shipped directly to me.
I plan on lagering at least ten gallons of beer for en extended period of time, and put that stock in the basement of my friends brewery along with the Imperial Stout and Imperial Red that I brewed earlier this year.
Ultimately my plan is to have at least four kegs in cold conditioning at any given time to have stock to pull from.
Oh yeah, and feel free to click on those ad's up there. I installed ad-sense to see if I can muster up cash for brewery equipment.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Swiss time was running out

As I reported last week, the girls and I manged to pull off the solo challenge with precision Swiss timing. Today, however was a different story. We managed to make it to school on time, just barely moments before the last bell. We fell so far behind schedule this morning that I had to drop Winter off before Grace today. We are all adjusting to Mommy's return from Seattle.
Wisdom of the day: Choose your battles, and next time leave your Barbie at home.

Support your local CSA

Last night after I racked the altbier to secondary fermentation I decided to wander on over to Tim Flemings and see if our family might be enjoying one more week of the CSA. Sure enough there was a box with our name on it on the porch. It also included a note that said we'll have one more week of greens.
Akaogi Farm will have enough greens to provide through the end of the year, so we have the option to purchase one more month for 60.00. The veggies in the picture are an example of what 15.00 a week gets you in Vermont. Community Supported Agriculture is the hot ticket.
By the way everything is local, and organically grown. If you are looking to reduce your carbon footprint, eat healthy, and support your local farmer please consider joining a CSA with the next growing season. It's a win-win situation for everyone. Besides, how else would you learn about freaky new vegetables? This weeks box included kale, cabbage, Baby Bok Choi, turnips, santoh-sai. lettuce, tatsoi spinach, and carrots.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Solo Parenting Success

Iz's ride fell through so I had to go down to Hartford to pick her up at the airport last night. I left the girls in Greenfield with my in-laws and we all stayed there last night. Needless to say my little tail is dragging this morning.
I managed to make it a whole week solo with the girls while Iz was on vacation in Seattle last week visiting our friends Jen and Nick. I want to thank my most excellent friends that helped out this week in helping me keep it together. In retrospect I am quite pleased with the results of this solo parenting adventure. I have garnered a new perspective on what it means to be a solo parent. I say solo, because that's what it is, no one else to rely on. Really! As mentioned in last week, it was an absolute mountain of work to organize, manage, and execute with any success.
Obviously there are many different paradigms for parenting, so here are four thumbs up to those that are doing it all by themselves without any outside support.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Out of the woods.

I can't wait to get back in the woods. It's going down to 25f tonight. Iz gets back tomorrow night. I think I'd like to start riding my mountain bike again. I am also hoping to do a little more bushwacking on my skis this year.

SMP Success & First turns of the season

The SMP brew went off without a hitch last night. I performed a single decoction, with a single malt, and a single hop. How painfully simple is that?

I also made top to bottom turns Saturday morning, attended a wedding, and carried on like an adult. Don't worry I didn't get carried away. I was too busy chasing two small children around Michael and Lisa's house.
BTW, It's going swimmingly.
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Friday, November 09, 2007

Modifications to the brew schedule.

It would would appear that my brewing schedule has been derailed yet again. I brewed the Pilsener and the Alt recently. That's as far as my plan will get me right now. My house pale ale will have to take a backseat to my latest creation called SMP. I'm brewing a single malt pils tonight. It will be a single decoction pitched on top of a nice healthy yeast cake that is left over from the Bohemian Pils I brewed back in October.
Sunday I'm going to brew a Farmhouse style beer. This will be my second rendering of a Saison. I'm scaling it back to a five gallon batch since I will be taking my show on the road Sunday for a brew session in the Berkshires.
The Sorghum beer is on the back burner until my sister gets me those samples to try, so that I have at least a general idea of what I'm getting into with a GF beer. After Sunday I will virtually be at maximum capacity since I will need to leave at least two carboys free for the SMP to be lagered.
The down side to all this is that I won't have much available to drink until this stuff is ready, which won't be until December.
On a side note I have Melanie to thank for all this since she has offered to take the girls for the evening. She is a most excellent surrogate auntie.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Into day three

We are at the start of day three with my solo parenting expedition. So far so good. I actually had an opportunity to enjoy more then one beer before turning in last night. The girls have been most excellent. I checked the gravity on the Bohemian Pilzner and it has dropped to 1.012. This beer will get racked to secondary fermentation tonight, and then lagered until it is ready to drink on Christmas day. I better read up on yeast washing so I can save this yeast for the next lager I'm going to brew. I see some serious issues coming up with my inventory...I may need to augment it with some commercial examples to get me through to Turkey day
Winter has a play date with Haim, today, so I will be able to linger longer at the office.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Pitching on the cake

Last night as I lay awake in bed, I had visions of brew sessions dancing in my head. Belgian Strong Ales, Saisons, Dopplebocks, and fast fermenters. It's amazing how a change in the season brings about a change in brewing style. Temperature is really affecting my desire to brew beer that requires very little energy, and effort to get it off and fermenting. With these cooler temps, I'm shifting my desire to brew, and I don't mean just any old ale....speaking of any old ale, the Alt is still going apeshit in the basement at 59f. I pulled the Bohemian Pilsener out of the lager chamber to raise it's temperature, and scrub the diacetyl before I send it off to secondary fermentation. We won't be enjoying this sucker until Christmas day.

I finally decided whatever it was that I brewed next, it was going to get pitched on top of one of the yeast cakes I have in the basement right now. I'm really leaning towards a dopplebock despite the fact that my lager chamber is cramped for space.

24 hours into it

I've been solo for twenty fours now. It's going well. Aside frotm the toothbrush incident, the girls seem to be doing fine. Grace & Winter slept in their bedroom all night last night. Winty came in around 6:30 for some snuggling, but other then that it was a quiet night.
Suzanne, Astrid & Suzanne's high school pal Diane hooked me up big time today by watching the girls this afternoon. Suzanne took them up to her house after school and we all had dinner. After dinner there were some pyrotechnics with some sparklers Diane brought all the way from Mount Bethel. Let's see how day number two goes tomorrow.
I spoke with Izzy briefly tonight, she is already talking about coming home early.

Monday, November 05, 2007

I'll have my hands full

Iz leaves for Seattle Tuesday morning. I'll be pulling daddy duty, practicing my solo parenting skills all week. Thankfully I have some friends looking out for me, who have offered to give me a hand. It looks like I won't be missing as much work as originally anticipated. This week will provide a great opportunity for some quality one of one with the girls while Iz is on the left coast.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Alt Success

I brewed my Alt recipe Saturday afternoon. I nailed the gravity, nailed the volume, and have that sucker fermenting in the basement at 59 f. This beer is going to rock. I cam so close to gettting another beer lined up for brewing first thing Sunday morning, but abstained after I realized I didn't have enough fermentation vessels available to make ten more gallons.
The Bohemian Pilzner is also still going to town in my lager chamber.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Happy Halloween

Here is a choice shot from Halloween. It's me, Klink, and Winty. Winty was a princess. I stayed in and got dinner together while the girls went trick or treating.