11/29/16: The Celebration Ale brew day went well. I hit all my numbers again - with a mash efficiency of 75%. It took me awhile to learn my equipment and get Beersmith dialed in for losses and volumes and temps and such. The mash efficiency is not something you can set in Beersmith. But, you CAN set the brewhouse efficiency. Although this number is not particularly useful for the homebrewer, it will adjust your mash efficiency indirectly. In other words, adjust your mash efficiency by adjusting your brewhouse efficiency.

       I have been very consistent at 75% - using the batch sparge method. So, I set up each recipe based on this figure, and my gravity readings end up right on the money (+ or - .001-2). Predictability is AWESOME for the homebrewer! (and it took me awhile to get there)

      The only thing that didn't go according to plan was the color of the wort. I was shooting for a nice red but ended up with brown. So, I will be adding some food coloring to this batch to give it the proper Celebration Ale look. Shhh. Don't tell anybody!

11/25/16: The Blackberry IPA is flowing!

And, for the holiday season I will be brewing a clone of Sierra Nevada's Celebration Ale. This is not your typical winter beer as it is not spiced. It's more of a straight up IPA, but with a beautiful red tint to it. Pretty simple ingredients, too. Anyway, this will be my first attempt at this clone so wish me luck.

9/26/16:  I brewed a simply Blond Ale yesterday and it's bubbling away in the fermentation chamber at 67F.

​In addition to the brew day, I was introduced to a product called DesanaMax FP. It is a powdered cleaner (to be mixed with water) that can be used for internal-hard-to-get surfaces, like inside beer lines in a kegerator for example.

It changes color to show clean vs. dirty vs. partially dirty, etc. Great idea. But, be careful if you decide to try this product as it caustic. Don't touch it, inhale it, or get it anywhere near your eyes. Wear thick rubber gloves, a mask, and goggles. Safely used, it can be a homebrewer's best friend. 

​9/19/16: The Blackberry IPA and GPPA are still flowing. But, it is time for another brew day!

8/20/16: The Golden Promise Pale Ale turned out great. So far, not racking to the secondary has had no adverse effect on clarity or flavor.

8/8/16: I kegged my GPPA yesterday. This was the first time in the last year I didn't rack to a secondary. I was kind of lazy that day and I talked myself into NOT racking by calling it an experiment. My first few sips of it were delicious. It will be interesting to see if it is noticeably cloudier or if there is any flavor difference. It finished at 1.009, 6.4 ABV.​

8/8/16: I kegged my GPPA yesterday. This was the first time in the last year I didn't rack to a secondary. I was kind of lazy that day and I talked myself into NOT racking by calling it an experiment. My first few sips of it were delicious. It will be interesting to see if it is noticeably cloudier or if there is any flavor difference. It finished at 1.009, 6.4 ABV.​

7/25/16:  Yesterday I brewed another batch of my GPPA. I had a smooth brewday and hit my numbers again. :) I am really loving the oxygen wand! It helps the yeast take off quickly and go hard! I also kegged the batch of Blackberry IPA (which I'm thinking of calling a stout now because of the color and roastiness). It's been on gas now for 24 hours, and it's the first time I've had two different batches of the same beer on tap. The previous batch is nearly ready to blow, and this one's just starting to get "happy." Fun. 

7/9/16:  My last brew day was on the fourth of July. I got up early and knocked it out by 12:30pm. It was my latest (and final?) version of this beer. I've tweaked the recipe many times now, and think I've finally arrived at a keeper! 

I normally use California Ale V (yeast) for this beer, but my local HBSS was out of it. So, I substituted it with WLP001. When I made this change to Beersmith, the estimated ABV went up by .3! Interesting.

I also hit my numbers! I mentioned in my blog last time that I've been struggling with the OG - getting the equipment profiles, losses, volumes, efficiencies, etc dialed in takes some time. It looks like I'm finally there. :)

** I judged my first ever BJCP beer competition today. It was very interesting and I learned a lot! Thanks Jim! More on this later -

6/30/16:  The Golden Promise Pale Ale turned out great! I'll be entering a brewing contest with it soon ... my first. It will be interesting to see what the judges think.

I haven't mentioned much about it, but I've been coming in consistently low on my OGs. After speaking with the local brew supply shop owner, I've discovered that my brewing software (Beersmith) has been skewing my Mash Efficiencies up for some reason. Nothing against the software, I'm sure it was complete user error. But, what I did was alter my Brewhouse Efficiency estimate to reflect a Mash Efficiency estimate of 75%. All my numbers fell right into place after that. And, to the rest of you out there that claim to be getting 85% Mash Efficiency (like I thought I was) ... I'm not saying you're wrong ... however, I would strongly suggest you reevaluate that number and how you arrived at it. Especially, if your OGs are coming in low... As homebrewers, we need consistency. We need to know what to expect from our equipment, our process, and our numbers. There is absolutely no value in claiming a high Mash Efficiency if you're always missing your OG, FG, and ABV. We need to find that TRUE efficiency number, whatever that is, and base our recipes off of that. Cool? Big lesson learned for me!

​​6/1/16: The Golden Promise Pale Ale is now on co2, and will be ready to drink soon! If it turns out as good as the last batch I may enter a contest with it this summer. 

It's almost time for another batch of my Blackberry IPA, too. I think I've got the recipe pretty much dialed in.

Having a Pilsner on tap lately has been nice. I've always enjoyed a good lager. Instead of going for a traditional Czech Pilsner again, next time I'll be brewing more of an American Lager ... a little drier, less flavoring from the yeast. I still plan to give it a hint of hop aroma ... but just a hint. That's what's so cool about craft brewing AND brewing all-grain. The ingredient combinations are pretty much unlimited.

​​​​5/9/06: Brew day went fine except for the fact that I messed up my yeast starter. I put it in my fermentation chamber, and instead of plugging the kegerator into my
temperature control box I plugged it directly into power. Whoops. So, the next morning, I found my yeast starter doing absolutely nothing inside my 39 F kegerator. Dang it! After brew day was over, I ran to our local HBSS and got some more yeast. I substituted SAFALE05 for the near-death WLP001. *I have only used SAFALE05 a couple of times, but I am impressed. I sure goes hard and fast! Frankly, better than some of the starters I've made. Hmm.

​5/5/06: Brew day this Saturday! I need another keg of my GPPA - version 3.1. Somehow I went straight from 2.0 to 3.1 ... oh well. 

I use Beersmith by the way. I've tried several others but none seem to be as comprehensive as Beersmith. It took me a while to figure out how to set up the profiles, volumes, and such for my own system, but it's all good now. Nice job Brad!
4/25/16: My Golden Promise Pale Ale 2.0 is gone!! And my wife's session amber is also gone. I've finally got room in my fermenting chamber for another beer! Golden Promise 3.0 is on deck! Brew day coming soon ... 

Oh, the Maltosaurus is actually improving a little. Maybe I won't have to dump it: : )

​4/8/16: I just had a taster of the Maltosaurus. The hop aroma is starting to come through but it tastes like ................. a barley wine! : ) I'm curious to see how this beer evolves. To be honest, it's nothing special at this point.

My Golden Promise Pale Ale is just about gone - only a few more pulls left! I can't wait to brew this one again. Delicious.

My Blackberry IPA is really aging nicely. I love it! But, my Czech pilsner, although quite drinkable, is pretty one-dimensional. It needs a recipe tweak!

I've brewed so many in a row lately that all 5 of my kegs have beer flowing. That's never a bad thing, but I miss brewing! I need to empty 2 kegs before I can brew again.... shouldn't be long. : )

3/31/16: After 19 days, the Maltosaurus has been kegged. It finished at 8.2%ABV. I tasted some during the kegging process, and the first thing I noticed was the strong alcohol content. There is a nice hop aroma trying to come through as well, but it is getting overwhelmed by the alcohol. This beer will definitely have to condition for a while (2 months?) before it mellows and becomes drinkable.

*I've now got 5 home brews on tap - that's the most I've had at one time. :)  

My Blackberry IPA has aged nicely. That taste I found too roasty at first has settled and balanced out. Although it is quite good now, I still plan to dial back the roasted/darker malt for the next batch.

3/17/16: My Maltosaurus fermented hard and fast! Because this is a "big" beer, I shot some serious oxygen into the wort prior to pitching. And, it was visibly fermenting within 3 hours! That's the fastest I've ever had one start. Good stuff.

Because of the enormous of hops and yeast, I plan to rack this to secondary (dry hop) then tertiary before kegging. This is going to be an interesting beer...

3/13/16: My Maltosaurus Barley Wine may end up being an IPA! I got 69% efficiency in the mash when I usually get 85%.  So, the OG ended up at 1.082 instead of 1.100. I'll have to research this a bit more, but all that grain must make it more difficult to rinse thoroughly ... hmm.

My Blackberry IPA has been kegged for a week now. It definitely has the roastiness  I was going for with the new recipe. Although it is still quite new, I think it might be too roasty now. It's still very good but I think I'll ease back toward my original recipe next time and call the recipe a keeper!

The Golden Promise Pale Ale continues to please me. In fact, it's so good I don't want to drink it up!

The Double Pilsner is still aging, although I take a pull now and then to test it.

3/12/16: All of my kegs are full of beer, so I'm brewing a Barley Wine tomorrow. (see recipe page) My plan is to brew it, stash it somewhere, and forget it for 6-8 months.

Hooked on Brewing


Here's the was-Barley-Wine-now-IPA a few minutes after chilling and draining to the carboy. Note: I used to get pretty worked up about chilling the wort ASAP to pitching temp, but now I only chill it ASAP to 85 F or less. Then, I place it in the fermentation chamber and wait for the temp to come down the rest of the way. It might take a few hours. No big deal. I just wait for it. Then, add oxygen and pitch.

My first attempt at growing hops ... This is a Centennial plant. I also have a Cascade sprouting, but my Chinook is a dud so far ...

Above, is a shot right after I oxygenated and added the yeast. The hops are still suspended from the churning. *Note: These are the kinds of pictures you DO NOT want to show your non-craft beer friends! You'll just gross them out and confirm their worst fear that craft beer is dirty and nasty and made in a bathtub! Just look at it. They would NEVER drink this beer - no matter what you tell them.

Personally, I think it looks cool. I see it as what it will become, rather than what it is in the moment.

Below is the Blackberry being racked to the keg.