Wine Educational

The August educational was presented by Bob Clevestine and Joe Jordan on wine. There was a great amount of interest. I asked Bob for some resources, so people can do some more individual research. Below is a list of links to get you started.

http://winemakermag.com

http://iowawinegrowers.org

http://midwestwinepress.com

http://www.fruitwinemaker.com

http://www.lallemandwine.us/products/yeast_chart.php

http://winemaking.jackkeller.net/strains.asp

Drinking Social(media)ly

We’re never really alone anymore these days with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, et al at our finger tips. And while I prefer human interaction over virtual interaction – especially when it comes to drinking – sometimes you don’t have that option and it’s nice to know that your friends are a finger press away.

untappdUntappd has earned a spot on my phone’s home screen. It lets me see what beers my friends are trying and what they think of them. However, I use it primarily to keep track of the beers I have tried and what I think of them. I’ve drank a lot of beer in my life and as a result of that, I can’t always remember what I thought of a specific beer. So I keep track of them in Untappd, generally only checking one in the first time I have it.

I do like seeing what fellow MUGZers are trying. I have a few of you on there already, but would love to see more. So go ahead and find me if you so desire, username rosquin (https://untappd.com/user/rosquin). If you want join in with other members, post your username in the comments. Cheers!

Regional Impact on Styles

I’ve been fortunate to travel a lot within the US for work and pleasure. I have visited the 48 contiguous states – many of which on long summer roadtrips as a child and many more as an adult on work trips or vacations. (My new goal is to have a local beer in all 50 states, but more on that later…. maybe). One thing I’ve noticed since I’ve been of drinking age is how much of an impact a region’s history has on the beer you can find there.

Things are changing now that everyone has become hop addicts, but it wasn’t that long ago that you could separate the US into three vertical sections – on the east coast you have the colonies and with them a history of English style ales. Malt and sessionable ales are the focus. After the American Revolutionary War, settlers started heading west with the Germans being the largest group to take up residence in the Midwest. They brought lagers and wheat beers. These hang around today, exemplified by Anheuser Busch in St. Louis and Boulevard in Kansas City and a slew of not-really-hoppy, not-really-malty lagers. The west coast was the fringe of society for us and the last to be settled (of the lower 48). That fringe culture helped them lead the hops charge with everyone one-upping each others’ IPAs.

Courtesy of CraftBeer.com

Courtesy of CraftBeer.com

That landscape is changing as everyone seems to be going hop crazy right now, but there still stands that spectrum of malty to balanced to hoppy as you move east to west (with all due respect to some excellent exceptions).

Last week I was surprised to find a subset of that stratification on the east coast. I spent the week in Raleigh, North Carolina where I had plenty of choices for local beer research. NC is one of the states I haven’t been to since I was a kid so I had no idea what to expect. There appeared to be a ton of small, packaging brewers in the area. On the first night there I swung down to the hotel bar for a drink and saw they offered a few local beers. The guy next to me ordered an IPA from Railhouse Brewery and said it didn’t taste right so I ordered one. I was surprised to discover that it was a decent English IPA. The “off” flavor was that it wasn’t an in-your-face American IPA. Throughout the week I found that English style IPAs were the norm and not the exception. I also discovered multiple Scottish styles. Raleigh Brewing Company’s Blatherskite and Highland’s Gaelic Ale were two of my favorites, both what one would call Scottish 80 Schillings.

gaelicale

Maybe I was preconditioned for seeking out English and Scottish influences as I’ve been submerging myself in the history of Scotch-Irish settlers in the US as part of my genealogy research, but the influence is unmistakable. The Scots arrived here over 200 years ago and we’re still seeing their impact in our craft beer choices. How cool is that? Here’s to hoping that the influence never goes away and that we remember to maintain some of our regional history with the best tools we have on hand – beer!

Safety First

We have a fantastic hobby! There is tons to learn about, lots of great experiments to try, and many good friends to share the fruits of our labor with.

All that aside, we do need to remember there is a constant need to pay attention to safety. We work with large volumes of boiling liquids. We work near open flames. We have propane cylinders full of flammable gas and CO2 cylinders full of invisible gas which could potentially asphyxiate you if release in an enclosed space.

I had a reminder of this need for safety this weekend. Burned Fingers I had finished brewing my latest batch of Maibock and was cleaning up to get to an afternoon appointments. Because I was thinking about getting going I did not have my full attention on the process, and I did not leave my brew kettle cool long enough before flipping it over to drain. A second of contact time with hot metal was all it took to remind me of the error in my ways.

The point of this post was not to dissuade anyone from our great hobby, but to serve as a gentle reminder to pay attention to the task at hand and always focus on safety. Cheers!

To Brew Stand or Not to Brew Stand

Earlier this month I brewed a citra IPA and realized how inefficient some of my processes are. I found that I spent a large chunk of time setting up my saw horses and hulling up my equipment to the garage so I could brew a batch of beer. I also realize how much of a pain it was to hand crank a corona mill just to crush the grain. So in order to fixes those things I decided I would do two things – start looking at building a brew stand and look into motorizing my grain crushing.

My first project seems like it would be the most daunting. I regretted for a while not buying the brew stand Eric Goodyear was selling not too long ago. And then thought maybe I could build something similar for around $300.

I have always known that there are two possible materials to use for building a brew stand angle iron and steel pipes. With the angle iron I wouldn’t need to weld anything, but my understanding is that there is always a possibility that the pieces would start loosening up and would constantly have to readjust the connections. I talked to Adam Ross about that and found out that he’s never really had that issue. With the steel piping it looks nice, is durable but you need to be able to weld (for both cutting and connecting the pieces together). I really liked the idea of having something that looks more professional like a welded stand.

I also set my eyes on creating a stand that was gravity fed, so I looked online and started realizing that gravity fed stands require a lot more material and space. I also realized that all stands require a lot of planning. I then started thinking more about the whole brew stand and started thinking that I should work towards a stand that is everything I want from a brew stand (able to recirculate and do more with step mashing). I quickly started watching as my price tag started increasing. I started to decide to make that a multi-year process of putting the stand together.

I ultimately decided that at this point I wanted a brew stand that would hold my bulky equipment while I didn’t use them and be able to use a gravity fed system. So I did more research online and found one instance where someone was using a metal shelving system they bought at the Home Depot. I immediately thought that is what I was looking for. So I looked online and quickly found a heavy duty shelving system online at Amazon for about $75. The shelf has casters that can hold up to 300 pounds which is enough for my 5 gallon batches.

Since I saved all that money on the brew stand I decided I would buy a new burner that didn’t sound like a jet engine, so I bought a banjo burner. I have not had a chance to use all the new equipment but I plan on brewing a Brett English Mild with Whitbread yeast next weekend.

What is everyone else experience with building or dreaming of building a brew stand?

 

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