Archive for the ‘General Brew Stuff’ Category

Very Nearly Done… Nearly

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

Heading over with my new kettles to get the ports welded in tonight! Just a few small plumbing pieces left and we are ready to roll! Here’s a pic of the almost finished product (sans hoses and pumps which will be added tomorrow) and a vid of my burner test. just cuz.

Looking sharp!

New sight gauge installed and marked

I was a little surprised that I needed to light “sections” of the burner, but then on the second test, I let it roll and the whole thing lit up after about 5 seconds. I just wasn’t patient enough.

Rise of the Black Mamba!

Friday, May 4th, 2012

When you build a brew rig, you can’t just call it “brew rig”. It’s like getting a dog and naming him, “Dog”. So after I finished painting the frame with the “heat resistant to 2000 degrees” engine paint (we shall see about that), I really liked that all-business look of the flat black color. Some folks pick up the stainless steel and make it look all Cylon sexy, but I kind of like the more muted, hide-in-the-tall-grass ninja style of this thing. Anyway, the build is nearly complete. I’m doing the gas pressure test tonight and will be firing up the burners for testing purposes (video to follow). Here’s some new photos below of the build out.

A shot of the gas manifold. I used flex pipe simply because I suck at getting measurements just right and this gave me 2″ of fudge room for about $10 more than custom cut black pipe. Note my kid’s mini papasan chair leaning against the motorcycle. Apparently my bike is now storage space. Thanks, Mrs. Brewer!

The burners are surprisingly stable with this configuration. I really wondered if I was going to need a crossbar support, but they are rock solid. I ended up needing to add a small spacer between the valve and the 90 degree elbow. The flange on the elbow was just wide enough to interfere with the valve handle rotation.

Another shot of the gas line assembly. I’ve capped he middle port for now. I don’t really do any decoction or step mashing, so I didn’t have an immediate need for the 3rd burner, but I’m paranoid enough to know that one day, I’ll probably want it. Its a $60 add-on if I change my mind.

The Black Mamba emerges! As I said earlier, I used Rust-O-Leum 2000 degree engine paint, but I’ve yet to see a spray on paint that can withstand direct flame. The only true way to do that is to get it powder coated and if I was going to bother with that, I’d have just bought stainless steel, as it comes out to around the same money. I figure if the paint in the direct line of fire can last for several brews, then I can keep a $6 can around for touch-ups. Amiright??

Next up: Flame On!!

We Are Nearing Launch!

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

The welding is done and all that remains is for me to throw on some high-temp paint and assemble the gas manifold and burners! I’m still waiting on a few parts that I ordered earlier this week, but with luck, I’ll have everything set and ready for a brew this weekend! MUHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Auburn Ale House – Auburn, CA

Friday, April 6th, 2012

It was our final weekend at our ski lease up in Truckee, Ca. It’s bittersweet in that I’m bummed it’s probably my final weekend of snowboarding, but even I’m ready for spring after this below-average winter. Of course, on our way up there from lovely Half Moon Bay, we stopped at the Auburn Ale House for a celebratory lunch and beverage! I’m kind of surprised I’ve not written about this place before. It’s really an outstanding brewpub here in the gold country of California, and it’s such a destination spot for us and many of our friends who spend the winter up here in the Tahoe area. So allow me to amend that oversight now!

Their standard line-up includes the American River Pale – one of my favorite pale ales anywhere. The Gold-Digger IPA – Hoppy, citrus-y but with a very nice malt back. The Old Town Brown – Mrs. Brewer’s favorite, with big malt character and a minimal, but present, hop flavor. The Fools Gold Ale – another take on the pale but with bigger hop character. The PU240 Imperial IPA – BIG bomber of a beer as the label’s WWII-style pinup girl sitting on a bomb might clue you into. These are my favorites when I’m there, but there are several others that they have on tap most days along with a few cask ales as well. Most of the beers on tap are available for growler take-away and several are in 22oz bottles if you’re not in for the full gallon.

I might mention that the food is also very good. They take pride in creating solid upscale takes on pub fare. Mrs. Brewer can’t get passed the blue cheese burger and the pulled pork sandwich. I love the ruben and the french dip. I will say the wings are sometimes a little skimpy, which is always a bummer, but they make up for it with the 3 different types of fries they serve which include a sweet potato option.

If you’re heading up 80 to North Shore Tahoe, drop in and check it out!

Ruthlessly Awesome

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

I love seasonal beers. I look forward to many offerings from Anchor, Anderson Valley, Ballast Point and of course, Sierra Nevada. This year, Sierra fired off a new one called Ruthless Rye. We’re coming to the end of it’s seasonal run this month and I wanted to write up a quick post about it, as it is an outstanding brew! I’ve always enjoyed brewing with Rye. It lends a earthy, spicy note like no other grain. Sierra balances that with a variety of hops including Chinook, Citra and their own “experimental hops” that (I’m guessing) come from their back yard hop garden up there in Chico. I’ve been knocking these down with reckless abandon, expecting the inevitable loss for the 8 months or so until it returns to the shelves.

The hop aroma is present but not as overwhelming as a Racer 5, Hop Rod or other big IPAs and the bitterness, while present, doesn’t overwhelm the malt character. I’m guessing this was done to showcase the rye instead of burying it with an avalanche of “C-hops”. The malt character is spicy and rich with a bit of roasty flavor from the chocolate malt, but completely balanced on the hops. Even at the 6.6% ABV, there’s no harsh fusel alcohol flavors and unless some of that spice is coming from the yeast, it’s fermented very clean, but not so dry as to lose any of that killer malt character. At that level of boozy goodness you wouldn’t expect this to be a session beer, and I guess it’s not… for the lesser of constitution. But like it’s bigger cousin, Torpedo, before I know it, I find myself three rounds or so in when my friends are hanging out. Oh well…

It’s still around for a few more weeks, so grab up a couple of 12-packs!

16th Anual Boonville Beer Festival – May 12th, 2012!

Friday, March 16th, 2012

Now that we’re coming to the end of what I wouldn’t technically call “winter” we must begin planning the anual pilgrimages to the beer and music festivals! For me, the pinnacle of the beer fest scene is The Boonville Beer Festival, hosted by the good people at Anderson Valley Brewing Company on May 12 this year. It’s just a one day event starting at noon on May 12th and going until 4-ish, which sounds short if you’ve not been, so let me explain: If you know what you’re doing (and I know what I’m doing) you show up Thursday evening, or Friday morning with camping gear in hand to score the best spots (camping’s $10/night and you’re welcome to start on Wednesday if you like). You then begin to notice your fellow campers are starting to set up their mobile bars and clipping in the homebrew kegs. Thus begins the festival inside the festival (festival inception, if you will). You’ll spend friday wandering around camp, sampling some beers from the nicer campers and meeting fellow beer enthusiasts. You can also wander down the street to the brewery and take a tour, or over to the Buckhorn Saloon, where you can get nearly all the AVB Co’s brews on tap with the added bonus of some serious A+ pub grub.

The Festival itself is a who’s who of California craft brewers. In past years, over 80 breweries have participated in the insanity, representing brewers from San Diego to Humbolt. For the price of admission (usually around $40) you get a tasting glass and unlimited tastings. The event area is huge, meandering all over the fairgrounds with the a live music stage and plenty of merch tents everywhere. The food is far better than your average $7 hotdog festival chow – if you’re a carnivore, do try to find the tri-tip sammich tent – just wow. Now you might think, “Only four hours… how much can I possible taste in four hours?” Well by the look of a good number of festival-goers around 3:30… quite a bit. As always with these types of parties, there are plenty who over do it, which provides for the entertainment portion of the evening – watching these folks play the timeless game of, “where’s my tent?”, or “Hey, that’s my girlfriend!!”

I’m not going to lie to you, Sunday can be rough, but honestly, you knew the risks going in. It’s a Bahl Hornin’ good time!

Well… Crap! The NHC Sold Out Already!

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

So yeah I’ve been a bit slow off the line on a few things this year, but I must admit, I did NOT expect the National Homebrewer’s Conference to sell out inside of a MONTH! I guess the silver lining here is that with the popularity of the conference, the venue may grow further next year and there will be more sessions, perhaps. I’ve put myself on the wait list for the event, so here’s to hoping for a few people to drop out or something. I swear, if this keeps up, they’re going to have to hold this thing out in the Black Rock Desert! Having said all that… Anybody got an extra??

Yeah, I Know, Been Too Quiet Lately

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

So it’s that time of year where holidays lead to ski vacations, lead to whatever else imaginable to keep me away from my brew rig, but that’s not to say I haven’t been thinking about brewing! I have a couple of reviews in the can of some new spots I was able to visit over vacation and a few new recipes to get in the mash tun. And of course, I still have the new brew system to build, so yeah, I’m getting there. Stay tuned, I’ll be more prolific soon!