Tuesday, September 14, 2010

HOPS! Oktoberfest 2010

This year, Meg and I will be participating in the annual Chicago HOPS! Oktoberfest extraveganza! Professional brewers and talented locals unite to bring you the ultimate in local craft beer and food. Come on by and say hello! Hope to see you there.

Join Homebrewer's Pride of the Southside (HOPS!) in celebrating the beeriest holiday of them all: Oktoberfest! Our annual fundraiser features music, an impressive spread of food offerings, and--most importantly--dozens upon dozens of delicious craft-brewed lagers and ales from local breweries and the award-winning brewers of HOPS! This year's fundraiser runs from 2-7pm on Saturday, September 25, 2010. Come rain; come shine; come thirsty! Prost!
NOTE: No one under 21 years old will be admitted.

» Get your ticket here!

Chicago Bridgeport VFW Post 5079
3202 S May St
Chicago, IL 60608

Absolutely! We'll be serving up the best local, hand-crafted beer available with kegs contributed by the likes of:
  • Rock Bottom
  • Half Acre
  • Flossmoor Station
  • Revolution
  • Metropolitan Brewing
  • Gordon Biersch
  • Goose Island Brewery
  • Two Brothers... and More!

Not only will there be food, but plenty of delicious food - from authentic German styles to mouth watering BBQ! Just check out this page for the state of the menu.

Get Your Ticket!
All you can eat and drink tickets are only $30 - and you'll need to purchase one over here.

If you have any further questions, please don't hesitate to contact Mark Mazanec (312-315-0829).

Monday, September 6, 2010

Passionfruit, Barleywine, Evil Twin & More - The Weekend of Beer Trials

Hi all - been awhile since the last post, but that doesn't mean we haven't been brewing up a storm!

With the approach of the HOPS! Oktoberfest and end of summer parties, I've been doing my best to brew as much as possible. Here's the lowdown on what's brewing.

First off, I've been messing around with the EZ Water Spreadsheet - with varying degrees of success. All I can really say is water is a tricky subject, and less is always best. I'm running some more experimental batches with water, and think that probably deserves a post of it's own down the road.

Last weekend I decided to totally go back to basics. I brewed a pale ale with 100% Canada Malting Pale Ale malt - with Simcoe and Amarillo for flavor hops and a touch of Galena for bittering. With no water adjustments or stabilizer, I was wondering if this might mean less efficiency with the mash, but quite the contrary, I got 85%. What I've found with batch sparging is if I give the mash an extra stir or two here and there, it'll jack my efficiency 5% or so. In the back-to-basics spirit, I fermented with Safale S-04 Dry Yeast, and had a good strong fermentation. No taste or readings to report yet.

4 weeks ago we brewed a Barleywine - pitched on top of a White Labs 001 cake with a staring gravity of 1.111. It fermented strong for 2 weeks or a little more, then cleared nicely. We were getting ready to bottle it (everything sanitized and such) when a reading showed it stopped at 1.035 - what the... I was shooting for more in the 1.025 range. After a quick call to a fellow HOPS! member (thanks Bob), I decided to krausen it with some Safale S-05. I made a 1 liter starter, transferred the beer into another carboy, and pitched the starter at high krausen. Now the airlock is bubbling again, and hopefully that'll shave some more points off it. Silly me, thinking a barleywine would be ready in 4 weeks. Sheesh. I think I'll just leave that in the closet for awhile.

We brewed a Passionfruit Wheat a few weekends back. After racking to a keg, it was a bit on the tart side, so we let it mellow at room temp for a week - which did wonders for it. So now it's in the fridge, carbing up.

On Saturday, we kegged a batch of of IPA - which tasted mighty fine. I saved that yeast and brewed up Jamil's Evil Twin (recipe at bottom of page) yesterday. The brew day went pretty well - hit the target pre-boil but my OG was a little low - something that seems to happen to me every so often, even after a strong 90 minute boil. I had decanted the yeast cake from the IPA into a 3L jug - there was a little over 2 liters of slurry in there, which I let sit all afternoon so it was nice and separated (the trub/hop residue/dead yeast settles to the bottom, the creamy good yeast in the middle, beer on top). After decanting the beer, I saved about 1.5 cups in a sanitized mason jar for the fridge, and after aerating the cooled wort, dumped the rest in - doing my best to leave most of the junk behind.

Well, 24 hours later - I've got a bit of very, very slow movement in the airlock, but no krausen. This happened to me before - the last time I reused yeast wo/ any kind of starter, and everything turned out OK so I'm going to wait another day and see (UPDATE: Fermenting strong 2 days later). Seems I have troubles/show starts when reusing yeast unless I either (1) pitch right on the cake or (2) make a starter.

So there you have it - got brats and beer to attend to, so until next time - keep on brewing ;)

October 2, 2010 Update: The Passion Fruit wheat is on tap. While enjoyable, I think I'll either boost the malt bill or cut back on the passionfruit puree a bit (we used 48oz this time), or both. Dunno yet. I will say that it made some mighty fine passionfruit pancakes ;)