Tag Archives: german beers

Building a sleeve to my chest freezer: A. K. A. having the best retired dad ever!

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One of the most challenging aspects of homebrewing is temperature control.  There are many DIY ways to control fermentation temperature, but using a chest freezer with a temperature control themostat is really the best.  Once this system is running, space becomes the limiting factor.  I’ve had this chest freezer for over a year, but finally expanded it to hold 6 kegs.  I really can’t wait to start my lager brew days!  A billion thanks to my  retired father for assembling such an awesome expansion of the freezer.  Here is what he did, in his own words.

Written By John Lovrich (my dad)

    To raise the height of a chest freezer, you basically make a box around the outside diameter of the freezer to reach the desired height. The one I made was made with 1″ by 8″ clear cedar boards cut to the correct lengths. An extra length was cut to connect to the inside of the side in which the freezer hinge was to be attached creating a rabbit joint. This piece is attached to the outside piece with 1″ stainless wood screws making it stronger and permitting the back section to be attached from the back and the side. After the wood has been cut , apply four coats of spar varnish to all sides.
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 Light sanding is required between each coat, but in the end, a well sealed frame has been made protecting against moisture and mold. 2″ stainless steel screws were used to attach all the pieces, but remember to pre-drill the holes so the wood doesn’t split.
Once the wood is thoroughly dried, assemble the frame and be sure it fits properly on the freezer.
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If all is okay, attach Super-Tuff R insulation board to the inside of the item. Be sure that the aluminum vapor barrier is facing into the freezer. Do not glue the insulation board because the varnish prohibits good bonding. Attach the insulation board to the wood by using 1″ #8 stainless pan head screws with the largest stainless washers available. Insert screws at all four corners and across the top and bottom every 10 to 12 inches apart. Once completed, buy a roll of foil tape and seal the top and bottom of pacer by folding the tape and covering the top of the insulation board, extending down the board about a 1/2 inch and stretching across the top and attaching to the wood. This creates a nice seal. But be careful, the tape is very sticky and once it is on, it is on. Do a dry run without removing the backing paper before you assemble. You only get one shot when assembling.
To attach the spacer to the freezer, buy a roll of industrial grade velcro. The freezer door must be disconnected by this time. This material is also extremely sticky. This material is attached to the freezer side as well as to the bottom of the spacer. Again, I advise doing a dry run with the velcro before final assembly. Place the velcro on the freezer first, and then after it is placed on the bottom of the spacer, carefully drop in place a press down for a few seconds. That’s it. The spacer is firmly attached. Place the freezer door on top of the spacer and be sure it is alined. Make sure the hinge is flush to the wood, pre-drill the holes and attach with 1″ #8 pan head screws, or larger or smaller if necessary. Drill any holes for the tubing to be used from the outside toward the inside. Use a thin paint brush to coat the inside of the hole just drilled with spar varnish. The spacer is now complete and ready for use.
WOW! what a guy!

DAD

DAD

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Oktoberfest Again!

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It was the fall of 2005 when I first walked into a beer tent in Munich.  It was an experience of excess and awesomeness.  People were everywhere and absolutely everyone was drinking copious amounts of delicious beer.  Oktoberfest is much like a carnival for adults, and I was lucky enough see it.
Later that year, I began home brewing, with a goal being to recreate the beers that I drank at the festival.  This has been a very frustrating process.  When I first began brewing, I was like every other home brewer out there, not very familiar with proper sanitation practices and lacked any form of temperature control.  I also didn’t understand the basics of pitching rate.  Needless to say, I have made many Oktoberfests that have tasted like absolute crap.
Last year I put a lot of time working with this beer style.  I made 3 batches of Oktoberfest, each through a different process.  The first was a triple decoction, which is a very long process of taking some of the mash, boiling it, then throwing it back into the mash tun, which raises the mash temperature.  Just add 3 hours to your brew day and you can do a decoction. The next approach was single infusion, using only 1 water addition to reach mash temp, and the last was extract.  I found that a triple decoction made the best beer, but took forever for a very minimal gain. The single infusion brew was the smoothest with a very light malt character. Of course the extract example tasted the worse.
This year, I attempted to fuse the successes from the past. Instead of the triple decoction approach, I did a double step infusion, holding the grain bill at 146 for 60 minutes, then raising the mash to 158 for 20 before sparging at 160.  Next time I plan on a double decoction, with a more diverse grain bill.

The beer ended up being a damn good lager, even though I am still working on the balance between Vienna malt and Munich malt. This style is finally being made well in my brewery, just a few more tweaks until I get to a finished beer!

Oktoberfest Bier

Appearance:Perfectly clear with an amber brown color
Nose: sweet caramel nose with a slight toasted quality
Flavor: Smooth and sweet, big Munich malt flavor with a late noble hop finish
Mouthfeel: medium bodied and wonderfully carbonated
Overall: This is the first time I can even come close to being satisfied with my Oktoberfest, I give it a 7.5 / 10

How gose it. Weird beer tasting

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This beer is my first attempt at brewing a Gose beer, one of the few german beers that has ingredients outside of the Reinheitsgebot, the german beer purity law. It is a pleasant sour beer with salt and coriander, but I used Acid Malt for the first time. Kind of a weird flavor, but delicious for a sour that I brewed only a few months ago.

How Gose it

appearance: A golden straw yellow with a slight haze, but not cloudy. A big thick white head sits on top and hangs around for awhile

nose: Lemony and wheaty. a mild funkiness underneath

taste: A sweet wheat flavor is the foundation of a salty lemon character with a slight tartness. A definite funkiness underneath leaving the flavor a bit big for this style

mouthfeel: big bodied and very highly carbonated.  I would prefer this a little dryer.

Overall: not terrible for my first attempt of a weird beer. 4.5/ 10

Congratulation Kolsch! a retirement gift for my Dad

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The one on the right is done with work!

My father recently retired from his job of 39 years and a congratulations are in order! As a gift, I brewed up a batch of Kolsch, which was my second, and much improved, stab at this style.  Here are the tasting that my father and I wrote with my muse of a girlfriend.

Kolsch 1.0 on the left, Congratulation Kolsch on the right

kolsch 1.0 (old write up)

Apperance: cloudy and straw yellow

Nose: corn with lemon citrus

Taste: an easy drinker with a lemon taste

Mouthfeel: smooth and low carbed. very light bodied

Overall: much nicer now, the lemon flavor is well muted and very easy to drink

Congratulation Kolsch 2.0

Appearance: Completely clear (I love using Whirfloc) light yellow color

Nose: Very light, with a slight sweetness in the background

Taste: nearly perfectly balanced, an easy round flavor

Mouthfeel: easy drinking summer time light beer

Overall: Really well done, but kinda boring beer.  This beer got it right! 8.9/10

Cheers to my Dad and anyone else who parents worked for too long!

Peat Smoked Vienna Lager aged in a Scotch Cask

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This was my first attempt at making a smokey scotch influence lager.  It was bottled October 16, 2011 and has aged wonderfully.

Scotch Cask Aged Peat Smoked Vienna Lager

Appearance: A honey brown color with a light tan head.  It is cloudy, but It seems that the cask aging does this to every beer.

Nose: A slight smoke and malt nose.  Very light and pleasant

Taste:  A bread/malty beginning fading into smoke and malt.  A very crisp finish with a smooth and distinct flavor.  At about 6% ABV, this is a beer that can be easily drunk and well as sipped

Mouthfeel: High carbonation but very smooth

Overall: A great balanced beer with a very nice light body and just the right amount of smoke

8.9/10

Peat Smoked Vienna Lager Tasting

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Peat Smoked Vienna Lager

This is my second time brewing up this beer.  I only use about 3 ounces of peat smoked malt and the rest of the grains is 100% Vienna malt.  The sweetness from the malt and the richness of the smoke go hand in hand very nicely.  I would try to dry this out just a bit more to really feel like this beer is perfect, but a damn good beer already!

Appearance: A yellowish head that hangs around for awhile.  Perfectly clear with an amber copper color.

Nose: A sweet malty nose with only a trace smoke.

Flavor: A malty sweetness comes in the beginning of the taste and stays up front, with the smoke being present but restrained.  A brown sugar taste underneath all the other flavors. Kind of hot from the high alcohol, which was above 8 %

Mouthfeel: A smooth, round flavor that leaves a smoke flavor sitting on the tongue

Overall: This was very nice, I am making this my official Rauch! 8.7/10

My Dad’s Kolsch

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For the vast majority of my life, my father has always abstained from consuming alcohol. It wasn’t that my father never drank, it was just tremendously rare.  Not even during the holidays.  Fortunately, through persistent encouragement, my father has finally found a beer that he enjoys. A smooth Kolsch.

A german hybrid ale with lager characteristics, but my dad likes REALLY smooth, crisp beer, so basically, I’m shooting for the lightest ale I can make, short of shitty piss beer. I have been playing with german beers since the beginning of my brewing lifetime, and for many years, made bad to really bad lagers, due to lack of accurate temp control, my less admirable personality traits, and lack of worthwhile brewing practices.

In the last 2 years, I made a big turn in my product, making beers that were much closer to my intended flavor profiles, but I still have a way to go to hit homeruns everytime.  This Kolsch is going to be my next major attempt at nailing a style.

here is version 1.0

DAD’S CHRISTMAS KOLSCH

DAD'S CHRISTMAS KOLCSH

Appearance: A straw yellow, clear beer.  Light head that doesn’t stick around for long.

Nose: a mainly lemon/ hop scent, with some earthy backbone

Taste: a very clean start mouth that amps up into a lemon hop character. a malt finish comes finished behind the lingering lemon profile which is a bit too bitter. pretty good though

Mouthfeel: easy drinking beer. carb is low, just like it should be

Overall: the bitterness has a great bounce to dry up the finish. no lingering sweetness or creaminess.  This is a very good place to start from. 7.3 /10

Dad liked this too, just a bit less lemon, and clear it out.