Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Hella Cool

I stopped by MyLHBS yesterday to pick up some ingredients for a maibock.  If you live in NOVA and homebrew you've probably heard of MyLHBS, it's a great little homebrew/winemaking supply store in the Seven Corners area run by guy named Derek.  I asked Derek what yeast strain he recommended for a maibock and he fortunately had a few activators of the Wyeast Hella-Bock strain left.  Apparently this is the same strain used by Ayinger.  From Wyeast:

"Direct from the Austrian Alps, this strain will produce rich, full-bodied and malty beers with a complex flavor profile and great mouthfeel. Attenuates well while still leaving plenty of malt character and body."

Sounds pretty good, right?  I am also using Hallertau and Saaz hops, pilsner malt, a little dextrin and crystal malt as well.  The wort ended up with an OG of 1.066 and looks like:

 Ah cloudy (the cloudiness should settle out during lagering) and golden deliciousness.  The only real snafu I foresee is that the yeast's optimum fermenting temperature range is 48 - 56 degrees Fahrenheit, I am fermenting this in my kegerator and the temperature that I usually serve my beer at is right around 40 degrees, so I may have to come to some sort of compromise here.  I am planning a 3 week primary fermentation followed by a two month lagering phase.  I'll keep you updated on the progress.

Hella sweet,


Sunday, December 27, 2009

Trouble in Paradise

Had a little snafu this evening as far as the dry hopped keg of Hopsloitation goes.  The keg line must have gotten clogged by the hops in the keg and the flow of beer was stopped.  Terrible, I know.

In order to troubleshoot this problem I took the CO2 gas line and plug it into the out line (liquid line) and blasted it with CO2 for a minute.  Foam erupted out of the "in" line, but it was easy enough to clean up.

At least temporarily this seems to have remove the blockage and restored the flow of brew.

Keep the kegs flowing,


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Snowed In

Like a lot of people in the Mid-Atlantic we were more or less snowed in yesterday. It gave me sometime to keg the Hopsploitation. The ABV came in at 7.2%. I dry hopped the keg with a half ounce of Amarillo whole leaf hops. I've never tried that before, so I'm interested to see how fresh, the hop flavor is. So I officially have nothing fermenting in the house. Sounds like a problem I will have to remedy over the holiday break. I think I might brew a maibock for spring. Also, lately I have been infatuated with Duchesse De Bourgogne, so I like to possibly brew a flanders red. The fermentation time is at least a year, if not 18 months, so this one will require a lot of patience and a good resting spot in chateau de HolzBrew. Anyone have a good recipe?

I also had a bottle of Two Turtle Doves (by the Bruery) yesterday and I was blown away. It is definitely a monster dessert beer, brewed with cocoa nibs and toasted pecans, flavor country, to say the least.

Hope you stayed warm yesterday and your back is not aching too bad from all of the shoveling!


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Perfect Holiday Beer: Old Ale

Sitting around this evening decorating the HolzBrew family Christmas tree and sipping on some Old Ale (North Coast Old Stock Ale). Sounds like a bad thing, right? Despite the name, Old Ale is a very very good thing. The perfect beer to enjoy this time of year sitting around the fireplace.

While not easy to define, because barleyewines and some winter warmers taste similar, old ale generally refers to darker english ales lowly attenuated so there are a high level of residual sugars. Per the name, these beers are typically fermented longer than the average english style ales. The alcohol levels can be anywhere from 7% to 10%.

During the early to mid 1800's brewing was big business in England. Porters and pale ales were being churned out at a quick pace. Typically fully fermented in just a few weeks. This was a change in business plan from brewers who were hoping to turn their inventory over faster. Naturally, it wasn't that easy. These beers with shorter fermentation tasted different. In order to get around public backlash (due to different tasting beer) brewers kept a smaller volume of beer around for a very long time, hence "old ale", and they would blend this beer with the fresh beer to achieve the flavor profile desired by their patrons.

By the 1850s - 60s, porter started to decline in popularity, so brewers started selling "Old Ale" directly to the pubs. These Old Ales sold to the public began to be brewed to their own unique recipes instead the Old Ale that was used for mixing. These beers were typically fermented for a year or more.

These Old ales had another unique quality, a noticeable acidic flavor. Around the year 1900 the yeast responsible for secondary fermentation (while the beer was being stored in casks, for aging) in old ales was identified in the Carlsberg laboratories in Denmark, and given the name Brettanomyces. Which is commonly found in Belgain ales.

Examples of classic english style old ales are Theakston Old Peculier and Thomas Hardy's Ale. Some of my favorite American takes on this style include North Coast Old Stock Ale, Great Divide Hibernation Ale, and Southern Tier Old Man Winter Ale.

Sometimes older is better,


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Blog Note

Per requests, I've tried to add some sort of social networking links at the end of each post. I am terrible at html, so I more or less copied and pasted some code I found on the web. If you are a code writing fool and have a better suggestion on how to add the social networking links to each post, please let me know, for I know not what I do.

Also, if you scroll all the way down to the bottom of this page (ridiculous, I realize), and click on "Subscribe to: Posts (Atom)" you should be able to subscribe using feedburner.

Bottling the tripel sunrise today, can't wait to try it.


Thursday, December 3, 2009


"I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart, but it's not really my fault because I was hopped up on that high gravity HolzBrew. I have not been true to my values and the behavior my family deserves. I am not without faults and I am far short of perfect. I am dealing with my behavior and personal failings behind closed doors with my family. Those feelings should be shared by us alone, but everyone should enjoy a HolzBrew from time to time."

-Tiger Woulds

Shocking words from the golf-icon yesterday. Who would have thought that the 'ole HolzBrew played a role in his transgressions?

Seriously though, who is tired of this story already? Me. Tiger's coming back like Kobe next year and probably going to win the Grand Slam.

I spent a few days in Durham, NC over the holiday weekend and got the chance to try some brews that are not available in the NOVA area. Namely from Triangle Brewing and Big Boss Brewing. I had the Triangle Golden Strong Belgian Ale. It was pretty nice, a sweet banana smell, with a lightly spicy Belgian body to match. I also tried the Big Boss Coffee Stout (I think it is called Aces and Ates). Also, a nice offering, as you would expect the taste was nice and roasty with a very noticeable coffee bitterness. Until just now, I didn't realize both of these beers were 8.0% ABV, kind of explains why I felt half-cocked after having these two beers with lunch. I was also looking around for Foothills Brewing offerings at Sam's Qwick Mart, but unfortunately I didn't realize that they don't bottle their beer.

I brought back a 22 oz. of Rye Hopper by French Broad and a 22 oz. of Highland Brewing Black Mocha Stout. I am looking forward to trying both of those (both from Asheville). The Misses and I also brought back a BrewDog Bashah and Punk IPA, because we don't really see the BrewDog stuff up in VA. Both of these beers were great. I had been hearing some hype about the Bashah and I had to see for myself. Believe the hype. The Bashah is serious flavor country. I'll spare you a lengthy review and just tell you to GET SOME, if you can find it.

The guys from BrewDog picking out casks in which to age the Bashah.

Also, I saw this comical article yesterday about another new beer from BrewDog:

A few highlights:

"A controversial Scottish brewery has launched what it described as the world's strongest beer -- with a 32% alcohol content. Tactical Nuclear Penguin has been unveiled by BrewDog of Fraserburgh."


"If BrewDog's new beer was called "Strategic Nuclear," the wary drinker might fear the high alcohol content would lay waste to him, her, or the whole bar. "Tactical" suggests that, if the beer is used judiciously, its effects are manageable."

Those Scots are crazy. A 12oz. bottle of this stuff, might kill you.