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,