Two-Brew Weekend

Let’s get away from my asinine rants on craft beer, and back to why I started this blog in the first place: homebrewing.

Yes, the great thaw is upon us and thankfully I didn’t have to dig my brewing gear out from under 108.3″ of snow this year. In fact, despite a brief April snowstorm, this was a fairly dry winter for my neck of the woods. And I managed to sneak two brew days into the first 3 months of the year (along with two week-long vacations to warm climates). But even with that relatively good start to the year*, I was still well behind my goal of 20 brews and 100 gallons of beer for 2016.

This weekend, due to upcoming commitments, I needed to get my ass in gear. So I brewed back-to-back this weekend, pumping out an amber ale for the Barrel House Z competition, and a barleywine for the Mash Holes’ barrel program.

Uncommon Wrath, Take 3

I don’t do a lot of repeat brewing. After 4 years (happy brew-versary!), I still consider myself a bit of a rookie. So I fitz and fiddle and tinker with different things in my brewing process in my recipe. That said, this is third time I’ve brewed this beer. The first iteration never made it out of the fermenter (long story), but the second version I brought to a club meeting at Barrel House Z and was able to get extremely helpful, professional feedback.

Russ from BHZ, provided me with some helpful pointers around fermentation and water adjustments to help dial in this beer. I gotta say, I’m excited to see if following his tips will bear fruit. Uncommon Wrath will be my entry into BHZ’s Launchpad competition, the winner of which will be able to brew their beer on BHZ pilot system and have it entered in GABF’s Pro-Am. With all that at stake, I took a more subdued approach and brewed a pretty standard – but flavorful – North German Altbier, similar to Alaskan Amber. I’m still debating which dry hops to use, but with the entry deadline of 4/25 I know I’ll have one of the fresher beers entered. Here’s hoping…

This was Saturday’s brew, and all-in-all it went fairly well. I’m getting closer to hitting my targets and slowly starting to narrow in on my system calculations. The weather was a bit back-and-forth, but it was a pleasant/exhausting day.

Barley Barrelwine

My homebrew club – who I’ve mentioned ad nauseum – has been running a club barrel program for about a year and a half now. How it works is we buy used barrels as a club; our designated barrel guys come up with a recipe; whoever wants in on the recipe, brews it and does the primary fermentation; the barrel guys coordinate a drop-off and load the beers into the barrel.

So far, it has produced some stellar beers. A tart and fruit Flanders Red, a puckeringly sour saison, and a hefty but nuanced sour porter. So I have high hopes for the barrel-aged barleywine.

The barleywine was Sunday’s brew, and I was certainly feeling it after Saturday’s session. This brew was a behemoth, with 23 pounds of malt. My numbers were a bit off – a consequence of brewing without the group, and having too high of a mash temp – but close enough that it’ll balance out with the group.

What’s Next

After back-to-back brewdays, I am good and beat. But I’m also thoroughly reinvigorated in the hobby. It felt good to get back to brewing, and seeing my numbers start to line up filled with a lot of confidence and zeal.

So much so that I’ll be brewing again next weekend, and I’m hoping to put together a 10 gallon batch of IPA. I haven’t decided which recipe I’m going to use yet but I’m planning to experiment with some hop extract and with two different dry hoppings (split batch).

Basically, the quest for a “house IPA” continues. I haven’t decided if I’m going to use the more expensive commercial variations of Conan yeast, or if I’m going to try a London ale yeast, but I’m fairly certain I’ve honed in on a “New England style” for my house IPA. We’ll see how it turns out.

Until then, I opened an Instagram account for my brewing. There’s a picture of my awesome assistant brewer/dog on there. So check it out.




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