January 31, 2009
Constantly daydreaming about Belgium and her fabulous bounty takes its toll. Your beard grows unabated, your family becomes increasingly concerned of the ragged gleam in your eyes, and like Cheever’s ill-fated swimmer, you might just leave the waspy cocktail party on a drunken mission, jump into the neighbor after neighbor’s pool, never to return. The Flemish people of Antwerp are steeped in folklore, and as I’m wondering if my obsession might destroy my life like Bluegrass destroyed John Fahey’s, I’m reminded of Lange Whapper, the giant fairy of the river Shelde, who would appear out of the fog to the late-night drunks along the cobblestone streets and punish them for their multitude of sins against the fairy-people.
My good friend Nick Falivenra keeps asking me for a good Saison extract and steeping grains recipe for, but I can’t recommend that anyone use those Saison yeasts in the winter because of their tendency to underattenuate and take forever to get the job done when nurtured with sub-80 degree temps. My friend Andy just fermented out his Saison with a hot plate underneath, and even them he hard time getting it to get below 1.020, which is the same experience I had with the Wyeast Saison yeast, even with a gallon starter and hundred degree Sacramento summer heat.
Instead, I will post a Belgian Pale Ale, that like the best Saisons, is a study in balance, with a skronky malt backbone that gives way to delightfully fruity yet dry finish. This recipe is based on Jamil Zainasheff’s clone of De Koninck, the daily beer of the people of Antwerp. The Mt. Hood hops in the recipe aren’t to style, but they’ve been resonating in all my thirst quenchers lately, like autumn leaves floating in a pool, wavering among the reflections of the stormclouds up above. Plus, the Kent Goldings he suggests are all but extinct in these parts these days.
(Antwerp Pale Ale)
5 gallons (extract plus grains)
OG = 1.053
FG = 1.013
IBU = 29
SRM = 8
ABV = 5.3%
7lb Pilsner Liquid Malt
10 oz Caramunich Malt (60 Lovibond)
4 oz Biscuit Malt (25 Lovibond)
1.5 oz Mount Hood 5% a.a. pellet hops (60 min)
.5 oz Mount Hood 5% a.a (0 min)
Wyeast 3655 (Belgian Schelde) Yeast
January 31, 2009
Cheers. Across the street from De Halfe Maan Brewery.
January 28, 2009
As all my yarn weary friends can attest, I’m proud of bay area brewing history. Fritz Maytag and his San Fran Anchor Steam brewery hold a hallowed place in my heart. Many quaffs of his magnificent common beer, with its fruity lager-fermented-ale-temp finish and northern brewer subtle hop theatrics, make it all the more unbelievable that before he came along and worked his ass off, the brewery’s name was synonymous with sour swill. Similarly, I will tell anyone with in drunken shouting distance of the storied New Albion brewery of Sonoma, early hero of homebrewing, and bold masterbrewer, Jack Macauliffe, who constructed a handbuilt palace of ale fabrication before having to go under due to being too ahead of his time.
My point is this — San Francisco beer fans need to grow a pair and attend the upcoming SF Beer Week. A small peek at the calendar will make you midwesterners and east coasters, so proud of your well-marketed “extreme” beers, cower at our west coast brewing heritage and present day bounty. Have you been to the Toronado? Are you man enough for the annual Bistro Double IPA festival? Show your colors, motherfucka’, cuz this shit is on!
From the SF BEER WEEK website: America’s craft beer movement began in the San Francisco Bay Area. With Anchor Brewing’s rescue by Fritz Maytag in 1965 and the founding of New Albion Brewing in 1976, craft beer grew into the Silver Age of American brewing, with over 1400 small craft breweries today. Northern California alone has more than most states and enjoys an unrivaled reputation for the quality and diversity of its craft beer.
SF BEER WEEK will be a ten-day celebration of that legacy, showcasing the Bay Area’s brewing heritage with as many as 150 events. The week will be anchored by the Bistro Double IPA Festival, the Toronado Barleywine Festival and will end with a bang at the Celebrator’s Best of the West Beer Fest. In between there will be beer dinners, cheese and beer pairing events, other gourmet food events savoring our world-class cuisine, meet the brewer evenings, homebrewing demonstrations, music, films, and even a museum exhibition exploring the history of Bay Area brewing, from Monterey to Sacramento and beyond.
Add to that a wealth of tourist destinations like Fisherman’s Wharf, Alcatraz, Cable Cars and the Golden Gate Bridge, and there’s never been a better time to visit San Francisco and the Bay Area.
January 28, 2009
Following the compelling lead of such lauded dreamteam superband collaborators as Duke Ellington, Max Roach, and Charles Mingus, Harlem Globetrotters and the Scooby Doo Gang, Hot Chip and Robert Wyatt, Huey Lewis and Gwenyth Paltrow, to name a paltry few — Sam Caglione of Dogfishead and Nick Floyd of 3 Floyds Breweries have joined forces to produce an experimental voltron beer. Just when you and your Dark Lord worshipping friends were deciding not to wait in line for and horde for future ebay glory and beer advocate credibility, the beer of your dreams comes true.
It’s called Popskull, and according to Beernews.org, it’s an “Old School, German Brown Ale with Palo Santo Wood and Botanicals. 60 barrels of Popskull will be distributed in limited release around the time of DarkLord Day 2K9.”
As well as riding the “extreme” beer craze to its Silver Surfer zenith in the sky, bound for some Galactus gobbling apocalypse, Popskull nips at the heels of Hvedegoop, 2008’s 3 Floyd collaborative wheatwine released around DarkLord Day that took took home a silver medal in 2008’s Chicago Beer Society Brewpub Shootout, and answers the prayers of beer starved geeks everywhere.
I swore I’d heard the word Popskull before, so of course, after checking my Urban Dictionary, I learned that given this beer’s pedigree, the name is what we used to call “ironic”.
With Popskull’s limited release and noble parentage, it’ll inevitably be tres chic to hate on this beer as overrated, expensive, not worth waiting in line, yadda yadda, objections which will indubitably turn out to be true. Nevertheless, I for one, am way down for the hype, and am waiting with baited breath and thirsty tongue for my promotional copy in the mail. (Don’t worry, I’ll put a torrent of it on Pirate Bay.) I have to admit, one of the cooler things about our mulifangled American craft brewing culture is the open source, no rules attitude exemplified by this project. Sam Caglione, Nick Floyd, Obama: Yes We Can…
Those stuffy German breweries would never be a part of such an abomination. It’s been a couple thousand years and I am willing to bet my dark lord ticket it’ll be another couple thousand before Weihenstephaner and Spaten get bed together to make a baby for the beer-loving public’s voyeuristic pleasure.
Historically, brewing tends to be a tyrant’s game, each brewmaster their own little dictator, free to spit invectives at each other under their breath. Pre and post-prohibition lore is rife with tales of winner-take-all brewery wars and extinct libations we can only dream about. Fuck that. Get me a ticket to the Popskull orgy.
Of course, I’ll fuck anything aged in Palo Santo wood, so what do I know?
January 27, 2009
–This post dedicated to N. FalivenRa–
I forgot. You are fucking awesome. And foolish. You don’t need some dumbshit approximation of an equipment list, even though you’ve been to the local homebrew shop several times and returned home with the homebrewing equivalent of your dick in your hands. What you need is a goddamn recipe. And you don’t want a simple recipe that you can’t cock up. You want a recipe that will broadcast to Ninkasi, goddess of brewing, of your hairy-balled hubris. You want a recipe that will make the corseted german beer maids swoon in their pantaloons. Well, you asked for it.
The point of my email was that I had the gear and I needed the recipe. So you go into great length explaining the necessary equipment and punt on the recipe? Fuck this, I’m making the Westvleteren 12 clone you linked to the other day.
I am a beer snob (snobs love old style, right?) and of course I want something foolproof, because I am a fool.
Recipe for the fabled Westveleteren 12
I brewed a tweaked version of this
from the unfathomably rad homebrew blog, homebrewingadventures.blogspot.com.
I didn’t have caramunich, used munich, and it turned out remarkably close to the beer advocate heralded best beer in the world. The Belgians will tell you that St. Bernadus Abt 12 is better without the hype. Try them both for yourself.
17.5 lb Dingemans Belgian Pilsner
1 lb Caramunich (belg)
.44 lb Biscuit
.31 lb Aromatic
.25 lb Special B
.19 lb Chocolate
1 bottle of the Dark Candi Syrup (this is key, use the syrup)
.25 Amber Rock Candi
1.25 oz. Styrian Golding (60 min)
.25 oz. Styrian Goldings (15 min)
.25 oz. Haullertauer (15 min)
.25 oz. Styrian Goldings (1 min)
.25 oz. Haullertauer (1 min)
Yeast: WLP 530
So then some dude in the comments says, can I brew this extract-steez. And then some other dude says, yeah sure 13 lbs of liquid dry Pilsen light or golden. Is this a 5 gal batch or a 6 gal batch? See what happens when you don’t put a lawnmower ale recipe on cock ale? You get some dick emailing you about how to convert a crazy all-grain clone of one of the world’s craziest beers into a ridiculous extract + specialty grain recipe.
Know that I am just fucking with you and that I dream of the day when your coast is my coast.
– N. FalivenRa, Cockale Fanboy Numero Un.”
Perfect. So here’s the deal. Multiply your base grains by 0.75 for liquid malt extract, and 0.6 for dry malt extract. This will give you the correct amount. And for the Westy clone you are brewing, you’ll need 13.125 lbs of liquid pilsen. You can steep the rest in your grain bag. Also, helpful hint. Instead of some expensive ass Amber Rock Sugar, use Turbinado or some other unrefined brown blood currency for imperialists.
Here’s a chart for converting all-grain recipes to extract, care of Mr. Ray Daniels.
Pounds of Pounds of Extract Grain Liquid Dry 1.0 0.75 0.6 1.5 1.13 0.9 2.0 1.50 1.2 2.5 1.88 1.5 3.0 2.25 1.8 3.5 2.63 2.1 4.0 3.00 2.4 4.5 3.38 2.7 5.0 3.75 3.0 5.5 4.13 3.3 6.0 4.50 3.6 6.5 4.88 3.9 7.0 5.25 4.2 7.5 5.63 4.5 8.0 6.00 4.8 8.5 6.38 5.1 9.0 6.75 5.4 9.5 7.13 5.7 10.0 7.50 6.0
update: one thing I forgot to mention. When are converting all grain recipes to extract, you are probably using a concentrated boil and diluting it in the fermenter. If so, then kick up those hops a bit, cuz you won’t get the ibu utilization that get with a full boil.
January 26, 2009
So you want to brew a batch of incredible beer but you don’t have much in the way of equipment or space. You want your beer to turn out tit-gushingly delicious, but you are wary of the learning curve present when engaging in this ancient craft. There are plenty of youtube videos and forum stickies about brewing your first batch, so at the risk of reinventing the wheel, I’m just gonna drop the quick knowledge that worked for me. First, we’ll start with an extract plus grain batch. It’ll be amazing, and better than any beer you’ve ever tasted. Because you made it.
Step One: Basic Equipment
- Brew Pot 20 qt : People argue Stainless Steel vs. Aluminum ad nauseum. Suffice it to say that both work just fine, but go heavy stainless if you can.)
- Large Stirring Spoon: Non-Wood, cuz you gotta be able to sanitize it. You can get your ancient oak mash paddle when you go all-grain.
- Fermenter: Five or Six Gallon Food Grade Bucket with lid and hole for airlock, Glass Carboy, or Better Bottle. Better Bottles are best because they won’t break and kill you. Food Grade Buckets work fine, but don’t you want to while away your hours watching your yeasties vigorously making beer?
- Sanitizer: Star San or Iodophor. Star San is better, it’s no rinse, and the residal foam turns into yeast nutrient when in contact with wort. However, Iodophor is on sixty three cents per five gallons; I use both.
Thermometer: I like the seven dollar cheapies from target. You’ll want to calibrate it or make sure its accurate before you go all-grain, but for now it’s no big deal that it’s crazy accurate.
- Muslin bag: For steeping your grain.
- Big Strainer: For straining out hops when pouring into your fermenter.
- Big Funnel: For pouring your wort into your fermenter so it doesn’t get all over the kitchen and make your lady mad.
- Airlock or caboy cap: I like the carboy cap because I can stick a blow-off tube to it when I get vigorous fermentation. Blow-off tube=less mess.
- Hydrometer and tube: So you can measure your original, specific, and final gravity,your abv, and make sure your beer is done fermenting.
- Auto-Siphon: If you are really hip, you can just go racking cane and plastic tubing. However, the fermtech auto-siphon less than ten bucks, makes life so much easier, and double as wine thiefs when sampling your beer. Need to get like five feet of tubing to go with it.
- Bottling Bucket with Spigot: Five gallon, plastic food grade bucket with a spigot. Some people will tell you this isn’t necessary. I think it is.
- Bottle filler attachment. Little guy that will help you fill up those bottles, fits right into the spigot.
- A methodology: Instead of reinventing the wheel here, may I direct you to two homebrewing methodological hip priests.
Charlie Papazian, author of “The Joy of Homebrewing”, and Zymurlogical wizard and founder of the American Homebrewer’s Association. His wry Vonnegutian sense of humor and goofy mysticism have converted me and millions of others into obsessive disciples before my first batch hit the boil kettle. Also, Papa Charlie coined the phrase, RDWHHB (Relax Don’t Worry, Have a Homebrew), the cure-all for all brewing anxieties.
John Palmer, author of “How to Brew”, and purveyor of cavernous alchemical geek knowledge made digestible to the wide-eyed and petrified novice. If you got some extra cash and you want to know the science behind this noble work, read and re-read his seminal work.
Homebrewtalk.com, the larges archive of homebrew knowledge on the web. They even have a social networking gig, and a wiki. Home to such beer heroes as Revvy, Edwort, Bobby_M, Biermuncher, and Orfy — masterbrewers.
HINT FOR THE CHEAPSKATE: The bulk of Mr. Palmer’s book is available online for free here.