Sunday, April 26, 2009

Hooded Sterling APA

A fellow crew member at TJ's became interested in the idea of brewing as we began to talk more and more about it. A couple months back he decided to try his hand at it, so we planned a drew day. He definitely wanted a keg for a party at the beginning of June. I then suggested a bright and hoppy American pale ale. That sounded good, and so last week Mik and his friend Rafe brewed their own batch with me on my equipment.

For this one, I wanted to make some alterations based on the two Sterling ales of 2008. I liked the assertive quality and bigger body of the Sterling Pale Ale, but I also really like how balanced of the Sterling Moon and it's lighter color.

So in this version, I hope to hit some of the strengths in both those brews. The color and caramel malt flavors should be a tad lighter. The body should still be medium-full. It's a hoppy beer so there will be tons of hop flavor and aroma with Simcoe and Mount Hood backing up Sterling's dominating presence. I took the overall IBUs down 5 points, and the OG was also lowered a tad to make it a bit more drinkable.

Overall, I'm looking forward to tasting the results. It's a 9 gallon batch, so I get to put some of it on tap here at home. A big thanks to Mik and Rafe for supporting me, while taking the plunge into brewing their own. Thanks also to Isaac for lending a helping hand & sitting down for a couple pints after it was all said and done. In all, 9 gallons brewed and a total of 10 gallons bottled and kegged...what a day!

Hooded Sterling APA

14.5 lbs. Organic 2-Row Pale Malt
1.00 lbs. American Crystal 20L
0.50 lbs. American Crystal 40L
0.50 lbs. Belgian Biscuit
0.25 lbs. Belgian Aromatic
0.25 lbs. Canadian Honey Malt
1.25 lbs. CaraPils

1.00 oz. Sterling, 5.3%, pellet, 60min
1.25 oz. Sterling, 5.3%, pellet, 20min
1.00 oz. Sterling, 5.3%, pellet, 15min
1.00 oz. Simcoe, 13%, pellet, 10min
1.25 oz. Sterling, 5.3%, pellet, 5min
1.50 oz. Sterling, 5.3%, pellet, KO
1.00 oz. Mt. Hood, 5.2%, pellet, KO

Wyeast 1056: American Ale yeast from 1gal batch

Brew Day Stats

Brewed: 4/16/09
Racked: just primary
Bottled: 5/1/09

Water Adjustment:
Strike: 1.5 tsp Gypsum, .5 tsp CaCl, 1tsp Acid Blend
2nd Sparge: 1.5 tsp Gypsum, .5 tsp CaCl, 1 tsp Epsom, .25 tsp Kosher Salt

H2O/Grain Ratio: 1.25 qt/lb
Mash Ph: 5.5
Sacch. Rest Temp/Time: 152°F/50min
Mash Out Temp/Time: 169°F/vorlauf
1st Batch Vol/SG: 6.1gal/1.080

2nd Batch Sparge H2OTemp/MashTemp: n/a
2nd Batch Vol/SG: n/a

Pre-Boil Vol: 11.25
Pre-Boil SG: 1.043
Boil Time: 75min
Post-Boil Vol: shy of 9 gallons
Mash Efficiency: 74%

OG: approx. 1.055
IBU: 40
Color/SRM: Deep Gold/7
Ferment Temp: 68°F

FG: 1.013
ABW: 4.4%
ABV: 5.5%

Sunday, April 19, 2009

King Ludd's Midway Arcade

Version Fest is...

"an annual springtime arts festival that brings together hundreds of artists, musicians, and educators from around the world to present some of the most challenging ideas and progressive art initiatives of our day. The ten day festival showcases emerging trends in art, technology and music."

As a part of Version '09, the King Ludd's Midway Arcade is...

"King Ludd's Midway Arcade began with a call for proposals seeking home-made video games, parlor games, and carnival games that would, in some way, challenge or offer and alternative to the forward march of high technology. Games could be analog, low-tech, or hacker. Artists were encouraged to think about the games as a site to investigate metaphors for social engagement or the production of social spaces. The results have been spectacular!"

Material Exchange, a group of artist dedicated to using used materials in the production of something else useful or otherwise artistic in nature, put out the call for proposales to create analog games. I was talking with Sara Black about how I too am building analog games form salvaged/used materials. They graciously invited me to contribute a game. I am building a portable skee-ball game with interchangeable back-boards. It's coming together nicely, and I hope to show pictures of it here, or on a new game building blog. But, just come out to the show to try your hand at it, and what should be a round-up of many challenging games.

Because this is a brew blog, here comes the part about home brewed beer. As a finale for the event, we will be hosting an after-party featuring all the games plus 3 home brewed beers and a keg of Half Acre craft beer. It only took a nano-second to say yes, after asking Kevin LaVoy to brew a batch for the event. Take a look at his LMNR Pale Ale. I brewed my Palisades Best Bitter, and Sara Black also brewed a batch. Its really going to be a BLAST, so I hope to see everyone there.

The info...

At the Experimental Station in Hyde Park
6100 South Blackstone Avenue

Opening night: Saturday, April 25th, 7-11pm
Sunday, 26th from 2-8pm
Friday, May 1st, 7-11pm
Saturday, May 2nd, 2-8pm & after-party 6pm-?

Adults: $5, Kids $3
All proceeds support Material Exchange,
the Experimental Station,
and the artists who made the games.


The Palisades Best Bitter was finished and it's yeast settled and ready for more wort in one week. No secondary for this brew, because I just don't have a zillion carboys laying around. Kegs are just fine for secondary conditioning.

On top of this London ESB strain, I wanted to brew my first ESB. In general, I don't care for English hops for their herbal/earthy/spicy qualities. I guess I've never been able to get good flavor and aroma, especially at the reserved levels most Bitter recipes call for. I have a feeling that these hops must to be utterly fresh & whole to impart their true delicate qualities. The pellets I get just don't seem fresh enough.

To get a more accentuated hop flavor and aroma, I used a ½-½ hop bitterness strategy. Half the bitterness comes form the 60 minute addition, and the remainder through the late flavor/aroma 15 minute addition. Originally, an aggressive knock-out addition was planned, but I felt good about the one big punch of flavoring. Besides, keg hops are planned.

The malts are pretty straight forward. Definitely enough color with various crystal malts. Some biscuit and a bunch a carapils to build some body. Mashed at 151°F, it should ferment well, and some sugar in primary will help dry it out a tad.

This was brewed over a week ago and is already conditioning in their kegs. Having both Ryan H. and Devon C. around to lend there very helpful hands was super. Experienced brewers in my kitchen is an often missed luxury, and I sincerely thank both of them for being here.

Extra Special Bitter

Grains & Sugar
14.5 lbs. Organic 2-Row Pale Malt
1.00 lbs. UK Crystal 20L
0.50 lbs. UK Crystal 55L
0.75 lbs. Crystal Rye 75L
0.75 lbs. Belgian Biscuit
1.50 lbs. CaraPils

0.50 lbs. Belgian Clear Sugar

2.0 oz. Kent Golding, 4.5%, pellet, 60min
4.0 oz. Kent Golding, 4.5%, pellet, 15min
1.5 oz. Kent Golding, 4.5%, pellet, KO
1.5 oz. Kent Golding, 4.5%, pellet, Dry

Wyeast 1968: London ESB yeast cake

Brew Day Stats

Brewed: 4/9/09
Kegged: 4/16/09

Water Adjustment:
Strike: 2 tsp Gypsum, .5 tsp CaCl, .75 tsp Acid Blend, .25 tsp Chalk
2nd Sparge: 1 tsp Gypsum, .5 tsp CaCl, .25 tsp Kosher Slat

H2O/Grain Ratio: 1.25 qt/lb
Mash Ph: 5.5
Sacch. Rest Temp/Time: 151°F/60min
Mash Out Temp/Time: 170°F/vorlauf
1st Batch Vol/SG: 6.13 gal/1.080

2nd Batch Sparge H2OTemp/MashTemp: 180°F/170°F
2nd Batch Vol/SG: 5.63gal/1.0245

Pre-Boil Vol: 11.75 gallons
Pre-Boil SG: 1.042
Boil Time: 60+min
Post-Boil Vol: 9 gallons
Mash Efficiency: 73.9

OG: 1.056
IBU: 40
Color/SRM: Pale/11
Ferment Temp: 68°F

FG: coming soon

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

NS Homebrewer's Connection Meet #3

I'm glad to see such a good response as a result of posting about the North Side Homebrewer's Connection. Check out that post to see a description of this club idea. It looks like a bunch more folks will be joining us at the next meeting.

I will be hosting the third meeting at my home in Rogers Park next week Tuesday (4/14). It will begin a tad earlier at 6:30pm, and go until 9pm.

At this meeting we will discuss more topics of what a Northside Connection could be. I'd like to see some sort of goal to look forward to, like a private tasting. I'll have some beers to sample, and welcome others to bring some as well. I figure there will also be much talk about brewing in general.

At this meeting I will announce the location and a unique experience for the 4th meeting in May.

Again, if you would like to join us for a low key round table of homebrew talk, please get in touch (click link above). I welcome beginners and experienced brewers alike.

Thank You.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Palisades Best Bitter

This beer kicks off another round of three batches using a select yeast strain. Each successive beer style will get stronger and/or darker. As with the previous Scottish ales, here we have some Bitters. I've chosen London ESB yeast because it gives a clean flavor, the beer's taste stands up to some aging, and it flocculates extremely well leaving a super clear beer.

I was originally going to keep it strictly British in nature, but things began to change...and for the better I think. I took into consideration some really good brews from last year (Sterling Moon, Rhino Rye, and Ordinary Bitter) and it gradually took on an American influence. After visiting with Half Acre's brewer, I found that the bittering approach would have to change a bit to highlight a more clean bitterness with a moderate hop flavor. I also went with a flavor/aroma hop variety I've never used before which should give the beer a somewhat American/UK hybrid taste. For the style, this one might be hoppier in the nose, but it's not a super aromatic variety.

The brewday went as well as could be expected. I really liked how the Palisade hops smelled at 10 minutes. The hop blend at knock-out should be good. Most of the batch will be put into 2 kegs, each with a different small dose of keg hops. 10 gallons of another session ale will be just the ticket for some upcoming events.

Palisades Best Bitter

7.0 lbs. Organic 2-Row
3.0 lbs. Belgian Pils
.70 lbs. UK Crystal 40L
.70 lbs. Crystal Rye
.75 lbs. Belgian Biscuit
.50 lbs. Belgian Aromatic
.50 lbs. Belgian Candy Sugar

1.10 oz. Kent Golding, 4.5%, pellet, 75min
2.75 oz. Palisade, 6.7%, pellet, 10min
0.25 oz. Kent Golding, 4.5%, pellet, KO
0.25 oz. Palisade, 6.7%, pellet, KO

Keg Hops
3 gallon: .25 oz. Kent Golding & .25 oz. Palisade
5 gallon: .80 oz. Palisade .40 oz. Kent Golding

Wyeast 1968: London ESB

Brew Day Stats

Brewed: 4/2/09
Kegged/Bottle: 4/9/09

Water Adjustment:
Strike: 1.25 tsp Gypsum, .75 tsp acid blend, .5 tsp Chalk
2nd Sparge: 1 tsp CaCl, .5 tsp Gypsum, .5 tsp Chalk

H2O/Grain Ratio: 1.5 qt/lb
Mash Ph: 5.4
Sacch. Rest Temp/Time: 152°F/60min
Mash Out Temp/Time: n/a
1st Batch Vol/SG: 6.25gal/1.041

2nd Batch Sparge H2OTemp/MashTemp: 180°F/171°F
2nd Batch Vol/SG: 6.25gal/1.014

Pre-Boil Vol: 12.5 gallons
Pre-Boil SG: 1.030
Boil Time: 75+min
Post-Boil Vol: 10 gallons
Mash Efficiency: 80%

OG: 1.036
IBU: 27
Color/SRM: Golden-Copper/9
Ferment Temp: 66°F with diacetyl rest

FG: 1.014
ABW: 2.31%
ABV: 2.88%