Tag Archives: brooklyn

Assessing Water Sources

My family and I recently pulled our roots from the superfund soil known as Greenpoint, Brooklyn and moved to the middle-of-nowhere area of Northeast Pennsylvania.  This explains my most recent hiatus from blogging and brewing.  But between last month’s insanity of packing up, loading, travelling, unloading, and unpacking, you know this way-too-serious homebrewer found time to pull a sample from the well and send it off for analysis.

Water Comparison

Two eerily similar water profiles, two completely different places.  Both are very soft and essentially blank canvases for almost any beer style.  Looks like I won’t have to relearn to brew all over again, at least form a water point of view.  First brew day at the new spot is still a little ways off, though.  I’m currently upgrading to a 20 gal setup and building a brew stand. Got lots of ingredients, hops, and new yeasts to test out, so stay tuned.

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Reppin’ Hard.


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Brew n’ Chew VI This Weekend



Attention New Yorkers, I will be participating in this awesome charity event tomorrow (Sunday 9/15/13, 3-5pm).  Homebrewers make a beer and food pairing and compete against other teams for votes.  It’s always a fun time and the Diamond Bar is a great venue.  Hope to see you there!

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HBC 342 Single Hop Beer

HBC 342 Hop 2 It

The Brooklyn Brewsers recently did a single hop experiment in which everyone participating brewed the same American pale ale recipe but used different hops.  Everyone used the same amount of hops (1 oz.) for the 30 minute, flame out, and dry hop additions.  Other than the hop varietal, the 60 minute bittering addition was the only variable between batches.  The batches using hops with higher alpha acid percentages used fewer hops for bittering and those with lower alpha acid percentages used a bit more (we had a chart to help us out) with the goal being that all of the beers would be the same bitterness IBU-wise.  I chose the still unnamed HBC 342 hop that I picked up from Farmhouse Brewing Supply.  I had previously brewed with this hop in the Lagunitas Fusion 9  but we also used Citra and another experimental variety so it was tough to pick out exactly what HBC 342 brought to the table.

Appearance. Looks like an American pale ale, deep copper, brilliant clarity with a dense white head.  Really appetizing.

Aroma.  Dank, resinous, hoppy, grassy when poured.  Subsides after a bit and begins to open up into beautiful floral and herbal notes with some citrus.  A few tasters also suggested sweet mint.  Just a hint of tropical/berry something that is hard to put my finger on.  Maybe the watermelon aroma people seem to always reference in connection with this hop?

Taste and Mouthfeel.  Very smooth bitterness with a touch of lemon peel and minty herbal notes.  Very pleasant.

Overall Impressions.  At the single hop tasting, people were really blown away by this hop and it’s dankness.  I’d like to do some more late-hopping with this variety to see if I can really bring out the watermelon.  This beer has been a go-to with the warming weather even with all five taps on my kegerator pouring pretty good beer.  Super easy-drinking with a distinct but pleasant hop nose.

Everyone in the group did a great job sticking to the recipe and we got to sample some great hops.  My only complaint was that I wish we got to try more hops!  HBC 342 actually won the overall vote for most impressive hop (which I can’t take credit for) but Mosaic was another standout.  I was blown away by the peach and apricot bomb of Glacier.  I brew an all-Glacier bitter recipe that has never tasted that good.  This experiment was such a success and a great learning tool that I have planned two more Hop 2 It batches using some experimental Steiner hops that I just picked up.

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Epicurious Homebrew 101 Videos

I recently did three videos for epicurious.com and despite my awkward on-camera presence, they came out pretty good.  The crew were professional and fun to work with and it they did a great job making me look like I know what I’m talking about.  There is definitely a lot of information to cover, but even if you don’t learn to homebrew from these videos, maybe it’ll spark an interest seeking out better beer.

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Probing Lagers.

Two peas in a pod. Standard American Lager #2 on the left and Schwarzbier cozy @ 55F

I devised a small experiment hypothesizing that the temperature readings taken from a probe taped to the outside of a fermentor and readings from a probe inside a thermowell would be different, as I have read, but no dice.  Both probes read the same temp all six times I checked them, from yeast pitching to near terminal gravity of these two lagers.  The picture shows the two ranco digital temp controllers attached in different ways to two different 6 gal carboys in a fridge.  Only one controls the fridge (thermowell with probe inside of the beer on left).  It was an interesting idea that didn’t lead to much, except some (hopefully) tasty lagers.

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Brooklyn Brewsers’ Holiday Party & Homebrew Alley 6

Yesterday was an awesome day to be a homebrewer.  My homebrew club, the Brooklyn Brewsers, hosted their first ever holiday party at Brouwerij Lane.  The dudes at Brouwerij Lane graciously allowed us to put our beer on draft to flow freely during the event.  I brought my standard American lager that I eventually nicknamed my “Budweiser Clone”.  It was very similar to Bud, but tasted fresher and more vibrant.  It went over really well, and kicked pretty quickly during the party.  I also kept it real American by bringing pigs in a blanket and rice krispie treats “loaded” with rolos and potato chips.

Shortly after the party, the awards ceremony was being held for Homebrew Alley 6 at Brooklyn Brewery.  We rode bikes over there just in time to catch a glimpse of the final round Best of Show judging.  It was dead silent in the room and it was really interesting to watch how focused the judges were during this final flight.

Far right is the new Sixpoint brewmaster, plus some nationally ranked BJCP  judges

Crazy as it may seem, my Standard American Lager and Kolsch were both being judged right in front of me. Both beers took gold in their categories and the lager went on to take 2nd place best in show.  AEB pointed out the irony in winning a homebrew competition with a Budweiser clone, and it really is the best joke.  You’re allowed to choose your prize when you go up to accept your ribbon, and of course I chose a 55 lb. bag of Weyermann Pilsner malt to feed my voracious homebrewing habit and to make the bike ride home as unsafe as possible.  I quickly put that bag to work this morning and brewed a schwarzbier to continue on my lager kick.

Wanna brew your own Budweiser clone? Here’s the recipe: Continue reading

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Beer Nerds Descend on Brooklyn Brewery

Dan Pizzillo, my brew bro and homebrewing mentor, was recently elected president of the Malted Barley Appreciation Society based here in Brooklyn.  MBAS was one of the first homebrew clubs that I joined when I started brewing and focuses on the appreciation of craft beer as well as homebrew.  The meetings usually consist of a guest speaker from a commercial brewery or distributor who will bring some beers and discuss beer related stuff with the club.  After that has concluded people pop open their homebrews and share them among friends and strangers alike.

One of Dan’s first deeds as acting Prez was to schedule Garrett Oliver of the Brooklyn Brewery to host a meeting at their facility.  He gladly accepted and took the club on a private guided tour with the brewery closed.  We got a glimpse of the old 25 bbl brewhouse along side the new three vessel 50 bbl system.  They cannibalized the old boil kettle to act as a holding tank for hot wort, allowing them to brew multiple times a day without batches running into eachother.  The most significant upgrade came in the form of multiple new fermentors, including several 200 bbl tanks, allowing them to boost annual output from 8,000 bbls to 50,000 by 2012.  Combine this with the over 80,000 bbls contract brewed by FX Matt upstate and the amount of “Brooklyn” beer produced will make them one of the top 20 regional breweries in the United States.

Inside the belly of the beast, four 200 bbl fermentors dwarf onlookers

The most exciting part of the night was the “ghost” bottle selection that Garrett poured.  These beers are usually one offs and test batches mostly for the brewing team that rarely make it out of the brewery for the public consumption.  The first beer was a bottle conditioned version of Radius, which was originally meant to be served within a five block “radius” of the brooklyn, but later stretched to the entire borough of Brooklyn.  Session strength and extremely drinkable, the carbonation from the bottle conditioned version provided much more elegant mouthfeel than the draft version and showcased the delicate balance between the all pilsner malt base and the spicy, floral Aurora (link to single hop aurora beer) hops.  Fermented slightly cooler than normal (I believe he starts in the low 70s) using the Saison Dupont yeast strain, I’m pretty sure Garrett said it briefly made an appearance in bottle form   for sale but couldn’t compete with much higher alcohol saisons that were similarly priced.

The next beer was a sour Local 1 “spontaneously” fermented in a second use bourbon barrel with New York State wild yeast from grape lees sourced from Red Hook Winery.  “Cuvee de la Crochet Rouge” stretches the definition of spontaneous fermentation that we associate with lambic brewing, but is a wild beer nonetheless.  From what I understand, all Red Hook wines are made from Long Island grapes and ferment using only wild yeast present on the grape skins.  Garrett mentioned a particular NY Times article about 90+ point wines are manipulated using science and almost never use wild yeast, the traditional old world way.  Instead, the wild yeasts and bacteria are inhibited with potassium metabisulfite and then inoculated with a commercial wine strain for more predictable results. Much like the Red Hook wines, the beer was not inoculated in the customary way, using a commercial beer strain, but instead dosed only with the indigenous wild yeast from the grape lees.  Fascinating stuff, and the beer was awesome, with my only gripe being the oaky bourbon flavor somewhat overwhelming the delicate sourness.

The next beer was an early version of Mary’s Maple Porter, which looks like it will be released as part of the Brewmaster’s Reserve series.  It was cool to get to a taste of this well balanced porter before its public release.  Garrett had an interesting story about his experiments with constantly upping the amount of locally sourced maple syrup from a Brooklyn Brewery employee in order for it to show up flavor-wise in the final beer.  Apparently, you need a lot.

The final beer was a four year old Black Ops from the Brooklyn Brewery barrel room across the street.  This beer was incredibly mellow and drinkable, even at 10%+ ABV.  Surprisingly, it showed no signs of souring and oxidation was very minimal.  Black Ops bottles have been hard to come across recently due to their small batch size and the increasing popularity in barrel aged beers, so if you come across some, pick up two bottles so you can enjoy one now and then cellar the other for four years to pair with Garrett’s recommendation of vanilla sauced sea scallops.

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