Thursday, April 28, 2016

Martin House and Podcasts

This past Sunday was the 3rd annual Martin House Riverside Shootout brew day.  I loaded up all my brewing equipment into the back of my dad’s SUV, and we headed down to Ft. Worth to the brewery.  This competition is pretty unique in that you actually brew at the brewery on your own equipment, using mostly their ingredients, and then take the beer home to ferment.  After packaging, you’ll bring 6 bottles back to the brewery in the second week of June to be judged.  Pretty cool idea, and I was excited to try it out.

We got down to the brewery a little earlier than our 11am start time, which gave us ample time to get everything set up.  We got pretty lucky and managed to snag a spot right next to New Main Brewing, which came in pretty handy later in the day (more on that in a bit).  After getting everything unloaded and setup, I went and got my base 2-row grains from inside the brewery.  The only ingredients you can use that aren’t provided are any base grains other than 2-row, and any specialty grains you want to use.  Hops and yeast are provided by the brewery.  They do this so that the winning recipe is as close as possible to how it was brewed by the homebrewer when they scale it up to brew on their system for the Pro-Am beer.

Dad and I lugged the brew kettle over to the hot water spigot and got just under what I needed for mash water.  Since the water was around 180F, we used ice to cool it down to where I wanted it, which also helped get me up to the correct volume.  I added my specialty grains to the 2-row and dumped everything into the water to start the mash.  Meanwhile, David had started a little earlier than me, so he was getting ready to start his boil.

It was a very windy day on Sunday, and David had some problems getting his wort up to boiling.  It took him a good hour and a half to get it going, which allowed me to catch up.  Since I was using quite a bit of pilsner malt, though, my boil was an hour and a half compared to just an hour for him.  Boiling went fine for both of us, with the exception of having more boil-off than we normally do.  That was probably due to having to keep adjusting the flame to compensate for the variable winds.

Once David’s boil finished, we used my wort chiller as a pre-chiller.  I had a big tub that we filled with ice, then used my chiller in that, and connected it to David’s chiller which was in his boil kettle.  This got the cooling water very cold, which helped immensely in cooling his wort.  This is where being set up next to each other really came in handy.  The timing was also perfect, as just as his wort was done cooling, my boil ended.  It was a simple matter to transfer the (sanitized, from being in his boil) chiller from his kettle to mine.  Once mine was cooled, it went into the carboy, and we all packed up and re-loaded our stuff into our respective vehicles, then headed home.  Oh, and in there somewhere David grabbed the yeast for both of us.  I pitched when I got home and got the carboy into the chest freezer.  It took off pretty quickly; I had a good 2-inch krausen the next morning.

I'll get the recipe up on the Recipes page here soon.

Speaking of David, he’s part of a podcast called AtypicalDFW.  They talk about beer mostly, but all kinds of other random topics as well, and they asked me to come on this week and talk about homebrewing.  I’ve listened to their shows in the past, and it sounded like a good time, so I agreed.  I headed down to their Arlington studios (one of the guys’ apartment) and took some beer with me.  This was my first podcast to be a part of, and I had a blast.  You can check out the episode here if you’re interested.  (NSFW)  It’s just under an hour and a half long (it seemed like about half that recording it, though).

That’s all for now.  Future brewing planning is taking place as we speak…gotta get ready for the fall competitions!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Lots of Good News!

It’s been a last good month and a half!  First, and the best of the news, is that our daughter, Kathryn, was born last month.  Mom and baby are both doing great, and we’re learning how to be parents, since this is our first!  No beers named after her, though…at least not yet!   Next, I was promoted to Captain in the Texas Army National Guard at drill this past weekend.  I got my state orders for CPT on August 20, but the Federal Recognition process the DoD makes NG officers go through takes forever, so those orders just published on the 29th of March.  It felt odd getting saluted and called “Sir” by LTs, but I’m sure I’ll get used to it.  And lastly, today my first article over at was posted.  I’m pretty excited about that, and hopefully there will be more to come!

Now that all of that is out of the way, on to homebrewing.  My test/pilot batch of Blindicide (Rye Belgian IPA for those who forgot since last time) came out way better than I ever could have expected.  I’d rank it right up there with Canon de 12 and Fiddler’s Green when it comes to the best beers I’ve brewed.  I’ll be brewing it on Sunday at Martin House for their Riverside Shootout competition.  Hopefully their house saison yeast is similar to the yeast I used, because that’s what really made it shine, I think.  The flavor profile from the yeast paired perfectly with the hops I chose.  Here’s the final recipe that I’ll be brewing:

Mash @ 149F for 60 minutes
6.5lbs 2-row (Great Western, supplied by Martin House)
6.5lbs Belgian Pilsner
4.5lbs Rye Malt
0.25lbs Carapils Malt

Boil for 90 minutes (all hops supplied by Martin House)
1oz Cascade (8.5% AA) and 0.5oz Falconer’s Flight (10.5% AA) @ 60
2oz Cascade @ 20
2oz Cascade and 0.5oz FF @ 10
1oz Cascade and 1oz FF @ 1
1oz Cascade and 1oz FF dry-hopped in Secondary (~10 days)

I plan on following the same fermentation schedule as I did with the test batch, pending any input I can get from the Martin House guys on their strain.  Here’s what I did:

Primary: ~ 5 days at 70F, the rise up to 80F and hold for another ~6 days
Secondary:  ~10 days at 72F

I’m looking forward to taking my setup out to Fort Worth overlooking the Trinity and brewing.  Sunday is supposed to be a fantastic day.  Next up, in May sometime hopefully, I’ll brew up a Wee Heavy recipe that I’ve been working on.  That’s going to be for Labor of Love.  After that we’ll play it by ear.

Short one today, I’ll hopefully have a good update after this weekend’s brew session!