Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy Brew Years

Happy Brew Years to you and yours!

Currently brewing up a little something special for the New Year. Something big and brown inspired by a recent recipe contributed by Drew Beechum ( in BeerAdvocate magazine. My recipe is a bit different.

I'm thinking of adding oak cubes soaked in spiced rum. Thoughts?


The End of History

Style: Strong Scotch Ale OG: 1.134
Type: All Grain FG: 1.039
Rating: 0.0 ABV: 12.44 %
Calories: 439 IBU's: 40.40
Efficiency: 75 % Boil Size: 4.89 Gal
Color: 14.9 SRM Batch Size: 4.00 Gal
Boil Time: 120 minutes

Fermentation Steps
Name Days / Temp
Primary 7 days @ 65.0°F
Secondary 45 days @ 72.0°F

Grains & Adjuncts
Amount Percentage Name Time Gravity
1.00 lbs 5.00 % Briess Caramel 60L 120 mins 1.034
9.00 lbs 45.00 % Simpsons Golden Promise 120 mins 1.034
1.00 lbs 5.00 % Fawcett Flaked Maize 120 mins 1.034
9.00 lbs 45.00 % Crisp Maris Otter 120 mins 1.038

Amount IBU's Name Time AA %
1.50 ozs 32.16 Northern Brewer 60 mins 8.50
0.50 ozs 8.24 Northern Brewer 30 mins 8.50

Amount Name Laboratory / ID
1.0 pkg Scottish Ale Wyeast Labs (null)

Amount Name Time Stage
1.00 oz Whirlfloc Tablet 15 mins Boil

Mash Profile
Medium Body Infusion In 90 min @ 157.0°F
Add 25.00 qt ( 1.25 qt/lb ) water @ 170.0°F


Add four ounces of Ghanian Cacao Nibs during secondary

Get creative in the New (Brew) Year,


Monday, October 24, 2011

We be jammin'

A few years ago, Meg and I were in Portland eating dinner at the Deschutes Brewpub and we had a fantastic sour ale. After inquiring about the name, we were told that it was called St. Ryan's, which Meg loved because that was her maiden name (That's right, I married Meg Ryan). The beer was a one-off of their regular sour brown ale the dissident. This one off creation had marion berries (insert DC mayor joke here) added during secondary fermentation and it was good. Fast forward a couple of years, I'm sitting on 5 gallons of lambic that I brewed approximately 1 year ago, so its just starting to get to the lambic drinkable stage. What do I do to this finely aged, if not soured, beer? Well that glass of St. Ryan's is still swimming around up there in my head, and so I thought I'd try to add marion berries to this lambic. Well guess what? It's really hard to find marion berries outside of Oregon.

So I was forced to settle on 4 jars of marion berry jam. I added this jam yesterday to the fermenter and we shall see how she turns out in the next couple of months.


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Old Vine Barleywine

The cold and nasty weather here in DC as of late has made me yearn for a blood warming barleywine. Fortunately, this past Christmas I brewed a big English style barley wine, Old Vine Barleywine. During secondary I added merlot juice and aged this brew on french oak for approximately 4 months. Well, I'm glad I did because it is the perfect companion for a cold rainy sunday afternoon/evening.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Bonkers for Basil Brew

A while back I mentioned that I was interested in trying my hand at another basil brew. Well, I made time today to actually make that happen.

You have a couple of options when brewing with herbs. The big three are 1) add herbs at 5 minutes left in the boil, 2) add herbs at flameout, or 3) create a vodka/herb potion and add at bottling time. The last basil pale ale I brewed several years ago was good, but I felt that the basil flavor faded in to a medicinal taste after a few weeks. This may just be the natural progression of things, but this time I did a few things to try to prevent the "medicinal" taste. First, instead of slicing and dicing up the basil, which can release a whole host of tastes, I froze the whole basil leaves the night before. I've been told that this helps to release the natural oils in the basil leaves without busting out things like chlorophyll (more like bora-phyll). Any truth to this story??? No idea, I'll keep you posted. Additionally, I figured that adding the herbs at flameout involved less boiling and hopefully would minimize any harsh flavors extracted from the basil leaves. I may create a vodka-basil potion (nothing complicated here, 1) add herbs to vodka, 2) let sit for a week, and 3) Add to beer until you've reached the desired taste) if the basil flavor and aroma is not pronounced enough.

The following is the final recipe I put together (I use iBrewmaster to keep track of my recipes and batches, nice software, but the copy and pasting into blogger is only so-so):

Belgian Basil Pale Ale
Style: Belgian Pale Ale
Type: All Grain Calories: 192
Rating: 0.0 Efficiency: 75 %
IBU's: 41.43 Boil Size: 5.83 Gal
Color: 8.2 SRM Batch Size: 5.00 Gal
Boil Time: 60 minutes
Estimated Actual
Brew Date: - 09/18/2011
OG: 1.059 1.060
FG: 1.013 -
ABV: 6.03 % - %
Serve Date: 10/22/2011 / /

Fermentation Steps
Name Days / Temp Estimated Actual
Primary 14 days @ 74.0°F 09/18/2011 09/18/2011
Secondary 21 days @ 72.0°F 10/01/2011 -

Grains & Adjuncts
Amount Percentage Name Time Gravity
7.00 lbs 70.00 % Dingemans Pale Ale 60 mins 1.037
1.00 lbs 10.00 % Dingemans Pale Wheat 60 mins 1.038
1.00 lbs 10.00 % Honey Malt 60 mins 1.037
1.00 lbs 10.00 % Turbinado 60 mins 1.044

Amount IBU's Name Time AA %
1.50 ozs 25.80 Goldings, East Kent 60 mins 5.00
1.50 ozs 15.63 Goldings, East Kent 20 mins 5.00

Amount Name Laboratory / ID
1.0 pkg Belgian Golden Ale White Labs (null)

Amount Name Time Stage
8.00 oz Malto-Dextrine 15 mins Boil

Mash Profile
Medium Body Infusion In 60 min @ 152.0°F
Add 13.50 qt ( 1.50 qt/lb ) water @ 166.4°F
Sparge 16.50 qt of 175.0°F water over 60 mins

Amount Type Beer Temp CO2 Vols
8.1 psi Force Carbonation 38.0°F 2.20

Freeze 1.3 ounces of fresh basil.

Add basil to pot at flameout

Nothing is more full of promise than your next batch of beer,


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Mainely Awesome

Meg and I just returned from a fantastic week long trip to Maine. The scenery was beautiful, the hiking was fantastic, and the beer was pretty damn good. All of the successful ingredients for a relaxing vacation.

In addition to touring and visiting many fine brew pubs and beer bars, we had the opportunity to tour the Allagash Brewery. A fantastic way to spend a few hours if you find yourself around the Portland, ME area. Additional highlights were Navare Res and Gritty McDuff's in Portland, as well as, Lumpoc Cafe in Bar Harbor.

A few pictures from the trip:

Standing next to a couple of barrels of my favorite wood-aged brew, Allagash Curieux

Meg hanging out between the bubble mountains

The Maine shoreline

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The End of Summer 2011, San Fran, and an Irene Victim

Well its official, Summer 2011 is over folks. That's the bad news. The good news is summer lasted at least a week longer this year. Successfully calling the end of summer has been this blog's wheelhouse since 2008. The last three summers ended on August 15th, August 7th, and August 14th for the years 2010, 2009, and 2008, respectively. How have I been able to call the end of summer so successfully? Oktoberfest, that sometimes coppery sometime golden delicious, German larger has been hitting the shelves. Indicating the end of summer. I've gotten a chance to imbibe Oktoberfests brewed by Stoudts, Schafly, Weihenstephaner and Paulaner. And the Stoudts so far has been my favorite. But there are no losers in this group. However, there has been no way for me to sufficiently judge 'fest brews without the release of my all time favorite Okfest brewed by Left Hand. It is the barometer against all other 'fests are measured. Regardless, drink up and enjoy the cool deliciousness that is Oktoberfest. Football is on its way.

Which brings me to my second point, San Francisco is a cool town, but I thought I'd find better beer there. The whole trip wasn't a bust, I was able to run by Toronado for a pint of Russian River Pliny the Elder. Additionally I was able to find this great belgian restaurant called La Trappe in the North beach neighborhood. I had a russian river supplication, which is a wild ale brewed with cherries, some might call it a kreik. I had a hankering for a sour ale and this brew was excellent. I finished the night off with a bottle of The Lost Abbey's Angel's Share. An amazingly complex brew. Start with a belgian quad and then hit it with some bugs to give it a sour twang and then age it in oak barrels for nine months. Liquid Artwork!

For my third and final act, our home desktop computer seems to have become a victim of the hurricane. Base on some Google searching today, it looks likes it has a fried power supply unit and possibly a fried motherboard , or mobo for you computer geeks out there. Currently we are working with an old laptop that Meg used in grad school and neither one of us cared for it. If we decide to make the jump to buy a new comp, should we buy a mac? Possibly a MacBook Pro? Thoughts?

Go Hokies!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Women and Beer, both works of art ...

... despite how beautiful they are separately, nothing is more beautiful than a woman who loves beer.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Mash up to Full cups

I had the opportunity to keg the surly bender clone this weekend. Nothing quite beats the convenience of kegging. Today after work seemed the perfect time to pour up full glass and see what its all about. I enjoyed it immensely. The perfect mixture of sweet maltiness and some roasty toasty flavors too, but finished off with some nice finishing hops. In short this beer drinks well. I definitely recommend this clone kit from Northern Brewer.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Honey Basil Pale Ale

You heard about it. It'd been done already. A couple years ago I brewed a Honey Basil Pale Ale. Well it just so happens that I'd like to brew an all-grain version of that beer. I plan to keep it simple with one twist, belgian yeast. So the recipe should look a little like this:

7lbs - Pale Ale Malt
1lbs - Honey Matt
.5lbs - Malted Wheat
.5lbs - Malto Dextrin

1.5 oz of EKG at 60
1 oz of EKG at 20
2 oz of fresh basil at 5

Yeast White labs Belgian Golden

I'm also putting together a recipe for a Farmhouse Brett Saison.

Keep Brewing, don't ever let up. Use your tanks and keep them full.


Galaxy Hut coming to Falls Church

Galaxy Hut will be opening a second location planned for this fall in Falls Church at 709 W. Broad St. Right down the street from Mad Fox.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Mash ups

I finally got the opportunity to employ the new all-grain equipment that Meg got me for my birthday several weeks ago. It was officially my first 100% all grain batch of homebrew. I've done plenty of partial mashes over the last couple of years, but I hadn't made the jump to all-grain. I usually don't buy kits, but I thought I'd play it safe and choose one of the excellent kits at Northern Brewer for my first all-grain batch. It had to be something malt-centered, as AG brewing is best at showing off the beauty of glorious malt. I decided to go with the Surly Bender clone kit that NB is currently offering. Every Surly beer I've ever had has been great, so I figured I couldn't go wrong. All in all everything went pretty well. I had a little difficulty hitting a mash-out temperature of 168F on my first go at it, but that was nothing another gallon of boiling water couldn't take care of. The recipe was as follows:

Surly Bender
Style: American Brown Ale
Type: All Grain Calories: 196
Rating: 4.0 Efficiency: 70 %
IBU's: 32.78 Boil Size: 5.83 Gal
Color: 27.8 SRM Batch Size: 5.00 Gal
Boil Time: 60 minutes
Estimated Actual
Brew Date: - 07/02/2011
OG: 1.060 1.062
FG: 1.015 -
ABV: 5.90 % - %
Serve Date: 08/20/2011 / /

Fermentation Steps
Name Days / Temp Estimated Actual
Primary 14 days @ 69.0°F 07/02/2011 07/02/2011
Secondary 21 days @ 72.0°F 07/16/2011 -
Bottle/Keg 14 days @ 74.0°F 08/06/2011 -

Grains & Adjuncts
Amount Percentage Name Time Gravity
8.00 lbs 64.00 % Pale Malt (2 Row) US 60 mins 1.036
2.00 lbs 16.00 % Aromatic Malt 60 mins 1.036
0.75 lbs 6.00 % Simpsons Medium 60 mins 1.035
0.75 lbs 6.00 % Special B Malt 60 mins 1.030
0.75 lbs 6.00 % Simpsons Golden Naked Oats 60 mins 1.033
0.25 lbs 2.00 % Simpsons Chocolate 60 mins 1.034

Amount IBU's Name Time AA %
0.50 ozs 9.24 Williamette 60 mins 5.50
0.50 ozs 23.53 Columbus (Tomahawk) 60 mins 14.00
2.50 ozs 0.00 Williamette 0 mins 5.50

Amount Name Laboratory / ID
1.0 pkg British Ale II Wyeast Labs 1335


Mash Profile
Sacch' Rest 60 min @ 153.0°F
Add 18.75 qt ( 1.50 qt/lb ) water @ 167.6°F
Mashout 10 min @ 168.0°F
Heat to 168.0°F over 2 mins

I hear it bubbling away right now. Can't wait to keg it in about 5 weeks.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Visiting Brasserie Cantillon

If you like sour ales, chances are that you've at least heard of Cantillon. While I was in Brussels I had the opportunity to visit the brewery. When you first enter right off the streets you get the feeling that you shouldn't be there. You find yourself in a warehouse type building. And it is somewhat dark and there is the constant drone of machinery in the background.

After your eyes adjust to the light and you acclimate yourself to your new surroundings, you kind of shuffle 10 - 15 yards from the door where you are greeted by an attractive middle aged blond haired woman. She efficiently explains that you have signed up for a self guided tour of the brewery, which upon your completion you are entitled to two free beers. She gives you a quick run down of your stops along the way and sends you stumbling off into the brewery.

Once you find the first stop on the tour you start to realize just how cool the place is. The brewery is somewhat old, but very functional. The immediate charm of the dusty brewery starts to rub off on you. You realize that this place brews ale that is spontaneously fermented, so they really can't risk cleaning the brewery head to toe with bleach, because the brewer wants to attract the microbes that are required to inoculate the brew. Their coolship is beautiful and the barrel room even more striking. And the cobwebs, ah yes, the cobwebs. The brewery is full of cobwebs because as the wort cools overnight in the coolship the brewer believes that the spiders catch errant insects lurking around the brewery, therefore keeping those bugs out of the cooling wort.

Their beers are unmatched in terms of quality. The basic gueze is a blend of aged and young lambic, and more importantly it is incredibly quaffable. The Kriek and Framboise, aged with Cherries and Raspberries respectively are not sweet girly beers. These bad boys pack some sour punch and they finish quite dry. As complex as any wine you've ever had. In short, you've got to try them.

The brewer and owner Jean-Pierre Van Roy was a teacher by training. However, his wife was a Miss Cantillon. And her father who was the previous brewer and proprietor asked Van Roy to take over the brewery or he was going to close it. No real option, he took it over. Below is a picture of me and Jean Pierre.

If you've got the time and your in Brussels and you want to see how authentic Belgian sour ale is produced, this is your place!


Friday, June 24, 2011

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Good News Abound, Norms and Sierra Nevada Brewery

Great news! Norm's of Vienna is here to stay, as reported by the Washington Post this morning:

"The Fresh Market, which is set to open this summer, issued this statement, and posted it on the “Save Norm’s” Facebook page: “Being responsible and active participants in the community is what The Fresh Market does and is an important part of who we are. As we have learned more about the Vienna community it has become apparent that Norm’s Beer & Wine is an integral part of the fabric of Vienna. We will work with Norm so that he can continue to serve his patrons from his existing location. We look forward to being neighbors with Norm’s Beer & Wine and together serving the residents of Vienna for many years to come.”

I actually was at a going away party this weekend for a Norm's employee, Jeff (he's moving to Cali). I had the opporunity to sit down and ask Norm how things were and he said that things with Fresh Market were on the mend and he hoped to have something final from them soon. At the time I had no idea he meant this soon. Alls well that ends well, I suppose. The Save Norm's Facebook page attracted over 1,700 supporters. Maybe there is something to this Facebook (this is a huge acknowledgement coming from a non-Facebooker).

In other news I read an article today in the Roanoke Times that Christiansburg, VA is currently #2 on Sierra Nevada's list of top locations to build their east coast brewing facility. The current #1 spot is in Blount County Tennesse, about 90 miles south of Knoxville.

"The company began looking for an East Coast site several years ago and narrowed the list from several hundred east of the Mississippi. The Christiansburg site and the Tennessee site were "head and shoulders" above others looked at in terms of quality of life, Manley said"(company spokeman)

The list of things that SN is looking for is refeshing. From a business perspective they would like good quality water and access to rail and shipping. Additionally, and perhaps more important they would like a nice community, low crime rate, good music scene, and closeness to the outdoors. Christiansburg/Blacksburg has got all of those things, that's why I loved going to school there. Maybe there is a homecoming in the works if SN decides to get started in C'burg.

"The new plant, which would include brewing and bottling facilities and a restaurant and brew pub, would employ about 100, from busboys to engineers, Manley said. Proximity to Virginia Tech is a plus, he said. The company often hires students from California State University at Chico for its plant.

The new brewery would produce up to 500,000 barrels of beer a year (a barrel is about 31 gallons), or roughly half what the Chico plant produces."

Last, your boy ordered an all-grain kit from northern brewer. I don't usual brew from kits, I like to come up with the recipes myself, but when I saw that Northern Brewer was offering clone kits in their pro beer series for Surly Brewing Co of Minnesota, I had to buy one. A nice big malty amercan brown ale should make for a good first all grain experience. I'm hoping to squeeze some brewing in on Saturday morning. I'll keep you posted.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Birthday Gifts

Unfortunately I haven't had the time yet to post much about our trip to Amsterdam and Belgium. I feel like I stepped off the plane and landed in a quagmire of work that I'm just starting to tred my way out of.

Now, today is my birthday and my fantastic wife purchased me a 10 gallon all grain brew setup. After partial mashing and extract brewing for the last 5-6 years, I'm finally launching in the world of all grain brew. Can't wait to whip up my first batch! It only gets better from here.

Keep brewing,


Friday, May 20, 2011

Closed for Business

In Belgium (and Amsterdam).

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sierra Nevada East Coast Brewery

I saw this over the weekend and couldn't stop thinking about how much sense it makes. Sierra is potentially looking to open an East Coast brewery. Official comments from Sierra on the subject can be found here.

According to the comments from SN, their East Coast demand is quite strong and its costly and environmentally unfriendly to ship mass quantities of brew across the country. So why not open another brewery on the east coast?

Now, not to get too carried away with the rumor mill, but one of the suggested locations for the new brewery was Blacksburg, Va. I can't imagine a better place. Centrally located on the East Coast, and a fairly cheap area to operate a business. Additionally, you have a major research institution right next door. I'm sure they would have plenty of internship candidates willing to work for beer.

Dreaming of Hokie Heaven,


Saturday, April 23, 2011

The curious case of the dry hops

I found myself racking a red seal clone I brewed a few weeks back into secondary this afternoon. And it occurred to me that I need to hit up the secondary fermentation with some dry hops. Dry hopping is a pretty simple process, just add hops to the secondary ferementer after racking. People talk about dry hopping like its some sort of an art form, but it is a simple procedure used to hit the wort with one last blast of fresh hop goodness. If done right it will add hop aroma with a very fresh quality. If done wrong it can introduce harsh grassy and vegetal notes to the finished product.

Brynildson (of Firestone-Walker) says that three to four days of dry hopping is optimal. Cilurzo (of Russian River) believes the appropriate time to be 7 to 14 days. Regardless, keep your dry hopping to less than 2 weeks and you will be good to go.

How do you hop?


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Some cities

Some cities just aren't beer destinations. I've been in Miami for a few days and the craft brew options at the restaurants I patroned were more or less nothing. I managed to find the only brewpub in Miami Beach (however, I don't think they brew on premises), Abbey Brewing Company. Despite what is listed on the website, they only had one self-brewed beer available, an IPA. After telling this to Meg she said that they weren't really a brewery, but rather an IPA-ery. The brew wasn't half bad, but not hoppy to really be considered an IPA.


Saturday, April 9, 2011

always plan ahead for a brew day ... unless you don't

The day got filled with things. Trips to the mall, grocery, and the gym that made it look like another Saturday without brewing. With Sunday in sight i had already planed to fill that day with non-fun things like work and homework, maybe a jog if i was lucky. So the lady and i were planning a quiet dinner at the house, complete with netflix. Then it dawned on me. i could start brewing now and possibly pull it off. i had ingredients for two very different brews, a flanders red, and a hoppy red ale. i didn't have the spare time to do the partial mash that was required for the flanders, so i pushed ahead with the hoppy red. Extract for the base no doubt due to the time crunch. 6 oz. of 80l crystal malt for flavor and color. 6 oz. of carapils for head retention. i also added one pound of wheat to add to the light body and head retention. cluster hops for the bittering. then wave after wave, like an unstoppable rebel force, of late cascade hop additions. currently this beautiful red head is coolimg down to pitching levels where she will be greeted by two packets of us-05 california ale yeast. and then dry hopped a week from now with more glorious cascade hops, then consumed 4 weeks from now.

the inspiration for this brew was red seal ale. i think i will call it red dawn.

i wear my sunglasses at night when i'm brewing.


Friday, April 8, 2011

rye fox

Stopped at Mad Fox for dinner. They had their wee heavy aged in rye barrels on draft. Very interesting. The rye accentuated the natural smokiness of the brew but also made the beer very dry. I personally enjoy their regular wee heavy more, but it was worth trying. if you like scottish ales then you should give it a try.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Port(er) City?

In case you hadn't heard, Alexandria's got a brewery, Port City Brewing. I haven't had the opportunity to try all of the brews, but I can attest that their porter is particularly delicious. Full-bodied and roasty, this ain't no wussy watery porter. This one is strong enough to carry the American Porter moniker proudly.

Further, it is guaranteed to make Economics homework infinitely more interesting.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The difference between gueuze and lambic

If you are into the sour or wild ales like myself you might find the flavor profile of gueuze and lambic to be similar. And for good reason, gueuze is a blend of one -, two -, and three - year old lambics.

First, the lambic that I am discussing is not the fruit blended kind, such as kreik or framboise. Nope, I'm talking about the slap you across the face, apologetically raw form, that is traditional lambic. In general it is somewhat rare to find traditional lambic outside of Belgium. Lambic is generally not fully matured until it has fermented at least 2 years and even then, much like wine, it can be aged successfully for 10 - 20 years.

Gueuze is a blend of young and old lambic. The young lambic may only be fermented for 6 - 8 months, while the old lambic can be 2 - 3 years old. Lambic is flat or uncarbonated, whereas gueuze is effervescent. Gueuze develops its carbonation in the bottle naturally by re-fermenting the sugars left in the young lambic.

Well that's just barely scratching the surface on these two beer styles. More will have to come at a later time. If you are feeling adventurous, go out and try some sours, but don't drink them too cold, they are to be savored like good wine.


PS - I got a call this week from the NHC saying that 3 of my 5 entries showed up destroyed. Bummer. However, they did allow me to reship three new bottles, hopefully they made it alright.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Hope you got your entries in

I got word today that unless you are from Canada, they aren't accepting any more registrants for the 2011 National Homebrew Comp. Wow, that filled up fast. I'm glad I got my entries in earlier this week. In the US, that's 6,750 brews entered into the competition. Apparently a new record!


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Its that time of year again

You probably think I'm talking about the NCAA tournament, but you are sadly mistaken. I'm talking about the National Homebrew Competition. I scoured the brew closet this weekend and found 5 worthy entrants. A new snag on this year's competition is that you choose which regional location to enter your brew in. In years past your were assigned a region. Despite this change, I basically just picked the closest shipping location, Nashville, TN.

I've entered a 1) Saison, 2)Golden Strong Belgian Ale, 3)Altbier (kind of), 4)American Sout, and a 5)Wood-Aged Beer. We'll see how they do. Last year I got lucky and one of the three brews I entered got 1st in the region and moved on to the national competition. We'll see if lady luck shines my way again. Regardless, its nice to get feedback on your brews from at least 2 certified beer judges.

If you've got any brews laying around, send them in! Entries are due by March 30th.

Unfortunately, I haven't had any time to brew lately. The weekends have been filled with work and studying, but I've got some new brew ideas so one of these days there will be a brew explosion coming from the HolzBrew kitchen.

Keep brewing,


PS- I also understand that Sam Adams is holding a DC local homebrew competition. Something to consider.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Apparently wanting more

So few weeks back I posted about designing a lower gravity house blonde ale. Well I should have known that I couldn't go small. Do to my less than precise methods I wound up using far less water than I should have and thus brewed a beer with greater strength. As I mentioned before I split the batch and fermented half with a Belgian golden ale strain and I brewed the other half with a German ale strain. Megan and I bottled them last week and they should be ready for initial tasting next week. They both came out in 6% abv range, I believe the Belgian was slightly higher in alcohol than the German. So the Belgian ale probably classifies as a Belgian blonde according to the BJCP guidelines, but the German is classless by any standard style guidelines (who cares?). Perhaps the German could be considered an imperial kolsch? I'll update you once I do a side by side tasting.


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Saison La Tarte

Last weekend Meg and I cracked opened a fresh bottle of my La Tarte. This is the third in a series of wire caged Belgian style ales that I have brewed over the last couple of months. I brewed this with the Wyeast Belgian Saison strain which naturally has a slightly tart taste to it. In order to enhance the tartness I added 30 ml of lactic acid a few days before bottling. The result was a refreshingly tart and yeasty Saison.

Keep it tart,


Saturday, February 5, 2011

Just had a Blue Mountain Evan Altmighty at Rustico. This beer brings fun back to the Altbier style. Find some and enjoy!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Wanting Less

Imagine it, wanting less? Hard to believe, right? In a society where “more is better,” we are pretty much hard coded to want more. Studies have shown that a one of a baby’s first words frequently is “more.” More money, yes please. More muscle, awesome. More energy, I’ll have two redbulls please.

We homebrewers are guilty of this as well. More hops, more grains, multiple yeast strains, tons of alternative ingredients. Heck, a few weeks ago I brewed a barley wine (a style that is the epitome of more) with grape juice and French oak cubes. Guilty!

Is it wrong to occasionally want less? I think the answer is no as long as the answer doesn’t involve less flavor, but more of a focus on simplicity versus layers of flavor. This leads me to the point of this post. I’d like to develop an easy drinking house brew to have around during the summers and to bring to picnics and barbecues. I've decided on brewing a blonde ale. Back to the lab.

I think I'm going to do somewhat of an experiment by brewing the same recipe and fermenting 1/2 with a Kolsch/German type strain and the other 1/2 with a Belgian Golden Ale type strain and see which I prefer. Belgian Blonde vs. German Blonde show down 2011.

I pretty much already have the ingredients and I just need to set aside some time to brew. Perhaps this weekend!

Dreaming of blondes (ale),


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My Wife, Your Wife, Baltimore's Alewife

Alewife. Great sounding word, eh? It brings visions of a beautiful woman with cold ale waiting for you after a hard day of work. Actually, pretty close to most nights in the HolzBrew house (needless to say, I'm a lucky man).

In addition, to being a cool sounding word it is a new beer bar in Baltimore (just opened in December). One of my oldest and best friends hosted his 30th birthday party there this past weekend. The beer selection was strong. I had a Old Rasputin on nitro, a Stone Vertical Epic 07.07.07 (how did they get a hold of this?), and a Greenflash IPA. The food was nothing to sneeze at either. I heavily recommend the smoke burger! The location is close to the Hippodrome and the building is very cool and unique. The only real set back was that the kitchen had difficulty serving our entire party at once. Hopefully they'll iron out the kinks in the coming months.

If you live in Baltimore and like beer, you have no excuse not to try this place. Another pleasant surprise, an old friend from Centennial High School tends bar there. Ask for Jared and remember to tip your waitstaff.

Stay classy,


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Monks (Cafe) and Madness

(the view of Logan Circle from our hotel balcony)

Meg and I took a quick 24 hour trip to Philly this weekend, just to get out of town. We did the obligatory Philly touristy things. We had cheesesteaks and went to the art museum. We also went to the famous Monk's Cafe for dinner and experienced the madness that is Monk's Cafe. First, despair, upon hearing that the wait for a table would be at least an hour. Then, hope, when a single seat at the bar became open after a few minutes. Next, satisfaction, after getting the bar man's attention after patiently waiting for 15 minutes and eventually tasting some their fine libations.

Eventually a second seat opened at the bar and we had dinner there. We each put in for an order mussels and frites. I had a Monk's Cafe Flemish ale there which was pretty cool. All in all it was a cool experience, but the place was packed and they only had one bartender. With all the press and the great reputation I can't believe they haven't expanded that place.


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Belgian Beer Corking Procedure

A few people have asked lately, how I go about corking my homebrew. Well today I was corking my saison and I took a couple of videos. Trying my best to make the video entertaining, I mixed up a back track using mixcraft. Enjoy.

Somewhat more involved than kegging, but the finished product looks pretty cool.

Keep on corking,


Saturday, January 8, 2011


This evening Meg and I stopped by RFD for dinner and beer before going to the Caps game. We had an incredible brew and I had to share it with the world. Goose Island Dominique is a wild ale aged in the bourbon county barrels and it all sorts of wonderful. Flavor country for sure. Find some and enjoy!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Brewing with Grapes

Over the last couple of years I've seen professional craft brewers experimenting with different varieties of grapes or grape juice. A few that come to mind are Dogfish Red and White, Allagash Victor, and Victoria. A few weeks ago I had a bottle of the Stone 10.10.10 vertical epic and it was a) fantastic and b) made with a variety of white wine grapes. Despite this experimentation on the professional side of brewing, I have not found much in the way of homebrewing information on how to brew with grapes, nor seen that many people have been using grapes in their homebrew. This is somewhat odd because homebrewers usually lead the charge in all directions as far as experimental brewing goes. So it looks like it's up to me to give it a try, without the benefit of training wheels. Last week I brewed a recipe from Randy Mosher's Radical Brewing (not exactly the same but close to Randy's Mr. Boing Boing Cherry Barleywine recipe without the cherries) as a basis for brewing a barley wine that was to have merlot concentrate added to it 7 days into the primary fermentation. That beer was brewed to a gravity of approximately 1.083. A few days ago I added three pounds of merlot juice concentrate to the already fermenting beer, bringing the starting gravity to 1.097.

The following is the recipe, exported from iBrewmaster (which I just got over the Holidays and haven't figured out how to input everything correctly yet):

Barley wine wine

Style: American Barleywine
Type: Partial Mash Calories: 274
Rating: 0.0 Efficiency: 75 %
IBU's: 45.68 Boil Size: 6.50 Gal
Color: 19.0 SRM Batch Size: 5.50 Gal
Boil Time: 90 minutes
Estimated Actual
Brew Date: - 12/24/2010
OG: 1.097 1.097
FG: 1.020 -
ABV: 10.09 % - %
Serve Date: 06/29/2011 (null)

Fermentation Steps
Name Days / Temp Estimated Actual
Primary 14 days @ 68.0°F 12/24/2010 12/24/2010
Secondary 180 days @ 72.0°F 01/07/2011 12/31/2010

Grains & Adjuncts
Amount Percentage Name Gravity Color
2.00 lbs 17.68 % Melanoiden Malt 1.037 20.0
3.00 ozs 1.66 % Special B Malt 1.030 180.0
2.00 ozs 1.10 % Carafa III 1.032 525.0
3.00 lbs 26.52 % Amber Dry Extract 1.044 12.5
6.00 lbs 53.04 % Light Dry Extract 1.044 8.0

Amount IBU's Name Time AA %
1.00 ozs 20.71 Northern Brewer 90 mins 9.40
1.00 ozs 19.36 Northern Brewer 60 mins 9.40
1.00 ozs 5.61 Goldings, East Kent 20 mins 4.50
1.00 ozs 0.00 Goldings, East Kent 0 mins 4.50

Amount Name Laboratory / ID
1.0 pkg Neobritania Wyeast Labs 0000

Amount Name Time Stage
46.00 oz Merlot juice 07 days Primary

Mash Profile

Partial mashed melaniodin, special b, and carafa3 for 60 mins at 155 degrees.

This barley wine is brewed more to an English barley wine style at an og of 1.080 and then 7 days into primary added 46 ounces of merlot juice. After adding merlot juice the gravity goes to 1.097.

When the merlot juice is added you pitch one packets of us-05 yeast.

I plan to add 1 oz. of medium roast french oak during secondary. I'll keep you posted on the progress of operation barley wine wine (or Red barleyWine).

Brew something new this month. Happy Brew Year,