I am currently sitting, bleary-eyed, at a Portland International Airport gate, waiting to depart on a week’s trip to Tampa. I’m still hoping to get the recipe and brew notes from last Thursday’s session posted this week, but I’ll be fighting a variety of distractions.
Archive for October, 2009
One of the most important steps in brewing is cooling the boiling wort to a temperature where yeast will flourish and bacteria will not. The two primary devices available to homebrewers are immersion chillers—copper loops carrying cold water through your wort—and counterflow chillers, which run the wort through copper tubes while passing cold water along the outside of the tube in the opposite direction.
The Daily Wort would like to dedicate this post to all those brewers out there who—by necessity or choice—do all their brewing alone. It’s tough work for one; there are a lot of tasks that really require either three hands or expensive gadgets. I was reminded of this as I mopped my third spill of the evening out of the space between the counter and the stove.
As I mentioned on Friday, we tapped a couple 5-gallon kegs of garden-fresh-hopped Bitter this weekend. The beer was, as usual, a hit—served alongside a companion keg of a friend’s homebrewed dry cider—but we ran into a snag at 11PM or so: we ran out of gas.
This has, as they say, never happened to me before. I was terribly embarrassed. We were nearly done with the cider, but we had plenty of beer left in the tank, and dozens of people eager to drink it. We just had no way to get it out.
Confusingly, the regulator on the tank was telling me that I had nearly 400 pounds of pressure (with a full tank reading about 800 pounds). (more…)
Fall in the Pacific Northwest is a significant time for brewers and beer drinkers, as it’s the season of hop harvest. The vast majority of hops used in North America for beer production are grown here in Oregon and Washington. Hops are a perishable product—they lose their character over time, as aromatic compounds and bitter oils oxidize and lose their punch—and our access to a wide variety of very fresh hops, chosen for their full potential rather than potability or industrial-strength bittering potential, explains the West Coast tradition of highly-hopped ales.
The Daily Wort attended last night’s Green Dragon Meet-the-Brewer event last night, featuring Alan Sprints of the remarkable Hair of the Dog brewery. Alan makes wonderful, mad, Belgian-inspired beers that are age-worthy and frequently deeply strange. I’ve been a fan for years now—in fact, our first flock of backyard chickens were named for Hair of the Dog brews.
Portland is a serious beer town; there’s just no denying it. Our proximity and access to the raw materials of brewing—good grain, fresh hops, and a municipal water supply that is clean and soft—inspire one of the most vibrant beer cultures in the world.
But we’re also a short drive from the Burgundian climates of the Willamette Valley, which produces top-notch Pinot Noir (among other things). The Oregon wine industry has grown steadily since 1966, when Eyrie Vineyards founder David Lett planted the first Pinot Noir vines in Oregon.
One of my goals for this site is to keep better records of the beer I brew. When I started brewing, my partner and I kept a journal with notes on each batch we made. At some point, I switched to keeping records on my computer, via a software package that calculated estimated gravity, color, etc. But when I purchased a new computer about two years ago, I didn’t bother reinstalling the software, and since then I have no good records of the exact recipes I’ve made, or how close I came to hitting target gravity, etc.
Mostly this hasn’t been an issue; We’ve had no trouble making beer in a variety of styles that people enjoy drinking. But now I’m looking to expand my range of styles; to hit my figures with a little more accuracy; and now that I’ve got this blog, to share these recipes with you.
So with that in mind, here’s the most recent beer to hit the fermenter. It’s my first effort at a Scotch Wee Heavy. I put the recipe together with my usual approach for a style I don’t know well: I found a random recipe online, and modified it moderately after reading the relevant chapter in Designing Great Beers.