Sunday, December 30, 2007


Thanks to the miracle of the Internet, I can use "Alt" codes to make an umlaut. So now I can spell out Kölsch using the numeric keypad and the ALT code 148, or even KÖLSCH with ALT 0214. I tell ya, that's pretty damn neat. The brew has fermented nicely at 64-66 F (I suppose I'll have to learn the "alt" codes for the degree symbol!), the head has dropped and the surface is almost clear. I like this yeast and expect to use it more in the future, it seems to have a nice tolerance for cooler regimes. I'm lucky that the main fermenting room (the hall closet) is pretty steady much of the year, but it can get a bit cool in the winter months. I'm also intrigued by the idea of German ales (like Kölsch and Altbiers), and want to experiment more with Continental malts. I can also get organic German hops from 7 Bridges. My goal is not to re-create some "style" or make an "authentic" hefe-dunkel-weizen-whatchamacalit, but to learn to use a greater variety of ingredients, and have some fun with new (for me and FSB, that is) combinations. (ALT 167 for degrees, as in 66º Fahrenheit!)

Happy New Year, everyone.
a.d. III Kal. Ian.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Boxing Day

I checked on "Aught-eight Ale" just a while ago, 24 hours after pitching. The Kolsch yeast is starting slowly, but it is starting, that's the key. So I can relax and let this one go. It is currently 64 F in the hall closet--perfect. Today was clean-up day. I've got most of the brewery washed, dried, and put away. We have consumed multiple pints of Pity-the-Fool Porter since I tapped the keg, and it is damn tasty. I made a decision: from now on I'm going "all-organic" in my purchasing. It will be more expensive, but I think it will give the brews a uniqueness, and I like supporting sustainable agricultural practices. I think aught-eight ought to be a good time to get that going. Happy Boxing Day!

a.d. VII Kal. Ian.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Aught-eight Ale

Thus I named my "New Year Beer." Happy Xmas, me buckos! It was bloody fookin' cold this a.m., the merc running at 16 F. I waited until noon to get started. It was at least in the high 20's and low 30's most of the afternoon. I wound up mashing 13 pounds of pale malt with the 3 lbs. of other stuff (pilsener, wheat, chocolate, and three kinds of caramel). Sixteen pounds along with 16 quarts of liquor (4 gals.) is the ABSOLUTE MAXIMUM my mash tun (5 gal. Gott cooler) can hold. I managed to extract 2 gallons of 1.098 wort from that. I just dumped the contents of the tun into my priming bucket (5 gal. plastic pail) with a cloth straining bag. Hi-tech lautering, eh? Skipping the sparge, I had to let the damn thing drip for a while, but that's how it goes. I added 5 gallons of liquor and we started cooking. The bittering hops were Northern Brewer, 1 ounce for 1 hour. That isn't a whole lot of IBUs, but I want to taste the malt on these "first runnings" brews. I flavored the beer with 3 additions of organic German Perle (another 7 Bridges score!), 1/2 ounce at 20, 10 and 5 minutes each. Yummmmmmmm. The Kolsch yeast (how do you make a fookin' umlaut, eh?) still has me worried, but I pitched it at just about 1700 hours PST. The final yield was only 4-1/2 gallons at 1.040 (10 degrees Plato). It is 66 F in the fermenting room (hall closet) right now. We'll check it out tomorrow--Boxing Day!

p.s. I tapped PTF Porter and it is THE BOMB!!! The "first runnings" give a sweet, syrupy quality to the beer. I could increase the roast malt flavor and play with the hops a bit for a skosh more bitterness, but the rich, malty taste is quite delicious. Merry Everything, lads!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Xmas Eve

Today I pulled out the Corona mill and cranked out a boatload of malt for tomorrow's brew. I also threw together a yeast starter. White Labs has these nice vials of pitchable yeast that aren't supposed to need any help, BUT . . . 1) the "best before" date on the Kolsch (WLP029) is TODAY, and 2) the stuff got shipped to me late one evening and spent the night on my porch in near freezing temperatures. So I figured better safe than sorry. I'll get a look at it tomorrow before pitching.

So far I'm thinking I'll need at least 15 lbs. of the Rahr pale malt for my "no-sparge" method. I've got a pound each of wheat and pilsener malts, and I'm flavoring them with 1/2 pound of Briess organic 20 L crystal, 1/4 pound of Weyerman Carafa 2 organic chocolate (375 L), plus 1/8 pound each of some weird stuff (140 L Briess "extra special" and 120 L Briess caramel). I think we've got a fine, tasty combo there. We'll see what fits in the mash tun tomorrow. U.S. Northern Brewer or German Perle? I haven't decided yet--maybe both!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Pity the Fool who misses out!

That's right, you miss out on my new porter, I pity you. Cracked the goods tonight with J & R and it was bodacious. Not just bodacious, but righteously bodacious. Mellow and smooth, but with clean malty sweetness and a crisp finish. Looking forward to tapping the keg over the holidaze!

Sunday, December 9, 2007


Pity-the-Fool Porter is going in the fridge today! It got very chilly in the conditioning room (hall closet) when we went away for Thanksgiving, down to 58 F! So I kept the beer there for another 2 weeks. Hovering from 62 to 66 F during that time, I worry that the yeast has petered out. We'll just have to wait and see. It has been very cold. I decided not to brew this weekend, and wait until my xmas holiday. We'll be bringing the last of the Rye-P.A. to Andrei and Kim this weekend. That was a damn tasty brew.