Tag Archives: great beer

brewing on a budget….

Standard

This last year has been a great time for my brewing.  I won my first homebrew competition, which gave me a real kick in the butt to brew more frequently.  Since that competition I have been brewing weekly, sometimes working on beer 3 times a week.  Its been about 5 – 6 months of that schedule and I have spent all my money. As you can tell, slowing down my brewing is an answer to my problem, but I find a great amount of joy playing with my beer, so I’ve decided to knock back the brewing schedule to every other week and start saving money wherever I can.

With my science background, I’m planning on saving yeast and making slides, but I’m broke enough that an autoclave (pressure cooker!) is out of the question right now. This leads me to the cheapest/easiest way to save money on brewing, reusing yeast.  All I do is put the newly made beer directly on top of an old batches yeast cake.  I always make sure that the cake is as fresh as possible and never leave the yeast without beer in it for more than an hour or so.  I know this is tremendously over pitching the yeast… but whatever, its easy and the fast fermentation is wonderful!

I have also been reading/listening up a lot on no sparge brewing (video link).  No sparge brewing is a process commonly used for lower ABV beers that could use a better malt backbone.  In this process, you use all the water you need for your brew day in the mash tun, vorloft it well, and drain the entire mash tun into a brew kettle.  You lose some efficiency, but it makes for a wonderful beer (which I will soon find out!)

While I was listening to this method, I thought of a way to still use the extra sugars in the mash tun, make a partygyle brewday out of this process.  After I brew a no sparge batch, I simply add another 3 -4 lbs of grain (sometimes specialty grains) to the mash tun at the mashing temp and let it go through another conversion.  This second mash usually lasts about 2 hours, since I have been only using my 7.5 gallon kettle for inside brews and i have to wait to get the first beer out of the brew kettle.

The results of this process have been promising.  After 2 brew days, I have been able to get 4 different 5 gallon batches for the grain normally used to make 2 gallon batches.  Is the original gravity lower on all 4? sure! But with OG’s in the 1.040 range, i am more than content with having a few 4 – 5 % ABV beers coming down the pipeline.

This leads me to my last option to save money. STOP BREWING BIG BEERS.  Usually my beer all hover in between 6 and 10 % ABV.  ya know, I make strong beer! But with my goal being lower ABV beer, my bills are remarkably smaller, usually walking out of the homebrew store with a bill for less than $40.  That means I making beer at about 40 cents a beer.  Its weird, but it seems that I can finally make great beer that is cheaper than buying commercial beers! It only took about 6 years of brewing to do it, but my original goal was to make good beer cheaply. and now I have.

More on these beers to come!

the purrfect ipa

A day trip to some local breweries: Barrier and Great South Bay

Standard

This last Saturday was a perfect storm of plans falling apart, which made my day wide open to finally get out to some local Long Island breweries.

The day started off at Barrier Brewing in Oceanside.  I know this place makes great beers and the brewery did not disappoint, outside of the fact that the brewery is located in what is essentially an industrialized warehouse in the middle of suburbia that is hard to find.

It warped me back to playing hardcore shows in some random back alley warehouse… ahh, youth….

I was able to try 6 brews which all had a great smooth balance to them.  Each one was very well crafted beer.  However, there was very little to see at the brewery.  The brewing system is set up in the background and there is nowhere for you to sit, or really explore.  This is very much a destination to go to if you want to get the freshest beer possible, not for a fun trip with friends to hangout and enjoy the scenery, but tours are available.  It seemed like it is mainly open for really delicious growler fills.

After Barrier, my lady and I continued to Great South Bay Brewery. This brewery has a very similar vibe to Barrier, but triple the space – much easier to stand around to enjoy the tastings.  Both breweries brew on a one barrel system, but at Great South Bay you could actually check out the brewing set up.

The beers on tap were great, but unfortunately, my favorite beer, Marauder, a Scotch Ale that is aged on bourbon casks was not on tap.

Merauder waiting to grow up

This was fixed by Ryan the bartender, who was kind enough to pull a small taste out of a cask.  After tasting all the beers and finding out about the breweries future expansion plans (which is on the same plot of land), I got a growler of the Saison and took off.  This was the coolest brewery visit i have had the opportunity to experience.  They even post their brew sheets (including brew day details!) on their primary fermentation fridges.

me teaching Karen

Ryan and his lovely lady, Mackenzie were great at explaining everything and took the time to really go in depth with all of the beers.  It was obvious that Ryan was passionate about the beer he was pouring.  I look forward to heading back there asap – tip them well!

Here are some tastings of a beer from each brewery:

Bulkhead Red Ale

Barrier Brewery Bulk Head Hoppy Red Ale

Appearance: Light amber brown that is wonderfully clear

Nose: Malty and sweet with bready tones

Taste: Smooth husky dryness. Maybe a rye backbone? Raisin and dark fruit undertones

Mouthfeel: Low carbonation and easy finish

Overall: A really nice smooth beer. I could drink a lot of these.  Really good out of 10

GSB Saison

Great South Bay Brewery Saison:

Appearance: Cloudy straw yellow color with a nice full head that stuck around for awhile

Nose: Bready yeast essence with tart, citrus, and  flora notes

Taste: A crisp bready phenolic taste that ends in a citrus flora lemon character with a significant yeast character

Mouthfeel: Nicely carbonated with a quick dry finish

Overall: A good light Saison with a bit of booze. I like it, but a little light and lemony for my tastes .  Very nice out of 10

Barrel Aging Update: 2/7/2012

Standard

UPDATE

Here is an update on the beer that is sitting in my casks since 11/28/2011:

Scotch Ale:

1. Scotch Cask: The nose has a roasty hint and a tart essence. The scotch/oak is really drying out the flavor profile.  This is very delicate and dark. Can’t wait to bottle this, but I might leave it in cask awhile longer

2. Evan Williams Cask: a roundier sweeter scent than the scotch cask. Vanilla oak and no roastiness in the nose. The taste is a real surprise. The bourbon flavors moves this beer in a great direction. A thight tannin finish… whoa. ready to bottle!

Brown Ale:

1.  Blanton’s Cask: this smells like a belgian dark sour beer, but still with a sweet backbone.  The flavor is a nice smooth balanced beer. this is good, not very oaky or bourbony, just an easy beer, with a complicated flavor. a little wine finish.

2. Rye Cask: an oaky raisin nose. A bright citrus flavor, with a weird grapefruit essence.  This could get a little more sour, and turn into a fantastic rodenbach type belgian. This could mean some additional micro organisms…. uhm…..

is dark a color?