Archive | May, 2012

Brewery Rehab Continues…

19 May

First off I have to give Richard a big thanks for the countless hours of helping me with welding and grinding. We detected several leaks in the gas line, so back to it! After some more work the gas line is now air tight to 60 PSI. This is more than adequate since I will be running a low pressure regulator from the propane tank at only 5 pounds of pressure. I also plan on picking up a half barrell keg tomorrow that I can quench my thirst with then make a kettle out of.  Once I have all three kettles together I will start adding the weldless thermometers and sight gauges. After I start this project I will put together detailed directions for those of you who are interested. Image

Also just received my cam lock equipment in the mail! These fittings are blowing up in popularity in the homebrew world for obvious reasons… they’re cheaper than quick disconnects (stainless steel that is), seem to be way more sanitary, and are incredibly durable. Homebrew shops all over are selling these parts for top dollar and many have ran out of certain parts, so for the best prices and selection buy direct from

For simplicity I will post all the plans and parts upon completion of this beast, that way no one has to follow a paper trail of my posts if they wanna build this.


Stay thirsty, my friends…


De Halve Maan Quadrupel

14 May

De Halve Maan Brewery of Bruges, Belgium. Unfortunately when I was in Belgium I was 19 and not much a beer connoisseur but if I went there now this is one of the breweries I would want to go see. I first tried one of their beers only maybe 5 months ago with Willy, and we both agreed it was one of the top triples we have tasted. So when I saw this quad at Beer Revolution in Oakland, I had to give it a shot.

First I just wanted to give a little history about the Brewery since I am a big fan of that sort of thing and their history perfectly illustrates the evolution of modern beers and craft beers. De Halve Maan Brewery (the half moon) has roots going back as far as 1564 and has been in the same family since 1856. Originally, like most breweries of the time, they produced farmhouse style beers which were “turbid and sourish with a high fermentation and limited durability.”(De Halve Maan) Later they adopted modern brewing practices from the English and started producing stouts and pale ales. Lagers started gaining in popularity in the early 20th century and became the dominant beer for many breweries to brew including De Halve Maan. Eventually other beers were forgotten and lager became the main beer brewed and sold throughout the world. This is why today we are still engrained with the stigma of beer being that fizzy yellow tasteless domestic lager. Eventually there was a backlash against these lagers and interest started to grow in craft beer and traditional regional beers like the Belgian beers we see today. The market for these beers began to grow around the world during the 70’s and 80’s and allowed breweries such as De Halve Maan to brew these style beers once again.

On to the good part! The Beer!

Oh yea its fancy, caged and corked.

I popped the cork and poured it into a tulip shaped glass. The De Halve Maan Quadrupel poured with a nice generous light tan head. The head eventually subsided but still left a silky top layer of foam that just kept coming from the moderate level of carbonation. The Quad is a deep mahogany color with subtle deep red garnet hues in the light. It sure smells as good as it looks with a hints of dark fruit, raisins, molasses with a slight heat from the high 11% alcohol. The dark fruit is also present in the taste coupled with a more roasted caramel, molasses, and spicy phenols from the yeast. The fruit blends in your mouth and gives way to the subtle spice flavors of peppercorn and anise with a surprisingly dry finish.  The higher carbonation also lends to the spicy and bright feeling as it pops when it hits your tongue leading to a dry and slightly bitter aftertaste. The hop bitterness is actually quite noticeable without being overpowering. Overall this Quad is pretty darn good, maybe a little lighter in body and flavor than most, but definitely still packs a punch from that 11% alcohol. In spite of its strength it drinks easily with a bright and toasty flavor that most anyone could appreciate.

Overall: 4 out of 5

*(De Halve Maan) Information and quote taken from

sour mash technique test run

13 May

I put together some brew equipment and an ice chest that were floating around the garage to make an epic sour mash system and this is what I ended up with…

So I got a three gallon kettle and a four gallon kettle which happen to fit perfectly in my coleman ice chest. I unscrewed the valve stem from the chest so I could feed the wiring of the kettle heaters and thermostat probe through it streamline without having to keep the chest lid cocked open. Prior to filling both kettles to the top with 120 F. water I hooked up the ice chest with both heaters to heat up the chest to prevent excess heat exchange from the warm kettles to the room temperature chest. By the time the kettles were full and ready to add to the chest, the chest was reading 113 F.

This technique helps keep the temperature from fluctuating to a minimum.  After adding the kettle fully loaded with warm water to the chest I wrapped the heaters around the kettles and connected them to the johnson control thermostat set at 120 F. At 8 hours later the temperature reads 120 on the dot. The water has way less thermal mass then if it was loaded with grain so I believe this technique will only get better result when actually mashing. Either way, I’m going to set this and watch it over the next 48 hours to see what happens.

For a beer style “sour mash” is probably the hardest thing to get consistent results out of. It is all about hitting that target temperature and keeping it steady within a degree for a period of 24 to 72 hours depending on what you want. This is besides all the other factors involved in brewing. By mashing this way I hope to bring it home and keep the results on point for a killer sour goat beer! Stay tuned on the results and the beer following the best procedure!

Stay thirsty my friends…


Brother Thelonious Review

11 May

Brewery: North Coast Brewery Co.

Beer: Brother Thelonious

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

ABV: 9.4

IBUs: 32

Poured into a gold rimmed wine glass because I mean business… Thelonious pours a deep caramel red with a nice head which dissipates rather quickly. This seems very normal for most belgian styles, so far so good. The aroma is rich of a nice roast and a sweet molasses with a touch of booziness. The first sip definitely warmed me up! It is rich with caramel malt and the molasses follows through from the smell to the taste. Seems to have a generous amount of Belgian candi sugar but it’s not overly sweet, to put it into perspective it’s not sweet at all when compared to a belgian quad. This beer starts out sweet and warm but finishes dry with a nice roasted caramel touch and a mild hop profile, nicely balanced. This is a great beer for log cabins and or just plain sitting on the couch. Drink one and tell me what you think.

Stay thirsty my friends…


Oakland Brewing

10 May

I wanted to waste no time in getting a new brew going here in Oakland, so I headed over to The Oak Barrel, Berkeley’s local homebrew store.  I was very impressed with their grain selection and equipment, they had everything I needed at a more than fair price. The staff working was great and I even got some free homebrew out of the deal. SCORE!  Well the rest is all in the pictures! Its an Extra Pale ale made with Oakland’s great brewing water, and I am very excited about it.

I am very pleased with the brew day since all my target temperatures were hit and the Original gravity is right on at 1.055. This should be a 5.6 % beer with a light color, a fair amount of bitterness, and a lot of hop aroma. We will see how it turns out, but its predecessor (a darker version) was probably the best beer I have made thus far. Anyone in need of a beer, feel free to stop by. The Lurking Goat tasting room is always open.

New diggs.

9 May

The break up between Willy and I  was hard. We had to split up some of the brew equipment and I was very sad that I couldn’t bring some things up to the bay area with me.  Specifically thinking the 15.5 cft fermentation freezer Willy and I had set up. What I did gain though, which is very uncommon in San Diego, is a basement!

Its pretty big about 12×24, concrete floors, outlets everywhere(go figure) and a constant 63 degrees.  Overall I am very happy with the space and I think I can do a lot with it. I was thinking maybe a few barrels for sours and a big lager/ cold crash chamber.  There is als0 a front section that I am using as a work area, which has all my tools and brew equipment. The front is almost as big as the back and even has a drain built into the floor like a real brewery.  It also has 220v plugs everywhere, anyone say electric brewhouse? I think I might have to step up my game to make this brew basement official. Any suggestions?


Stay Thirsty My Friends…

7 May