A Broken Hydrometer Weekend

March 10th, 2008 by Steve Travis

The good people down at MoreBeer in Los Altos, Ca hold an invitational called the Broken Hydrometer. It is a contest where Phil from MoreBeer selects an unknown series of hops and hands you a 4oz bag worth of them. The only rules are that you must use, in any way you see fit, all 4 ounces worth in your brew. Pretty much anything else goes. So I pondered this for about a week as the hops sat in my freezer, mocking me. I decided to throw caution to the wind and take a chance on the grain bill. Now not wanting to aid any of my fellow contestants, not that any read this blog anyway, but I will post the recipe after I turn in my bottles next month. I will say that the wort I collected from the mash had the very unique flavor that, I hope, will be complimented by any hops that I may have thrown in there and the sample I took as I was running the cooled product into the fermenter definitely had a stand-out flavor that I think will, at a minimum, give the judges a welcome surprise. 😈 Wish me luck!

Tornado Barley Wine Festival

February 6th, 2008 by Steve Travis

For those in the Bay Area, the Tornado Barley Wine Festival is coming up this month! Get a hotel room and take a cab. You will NOT be driving home from this one. 😀

Slow Posting

February 6th, 2008 by Steve Travis

Yes, I’ve not been posting lately and that has a little something to do with the fact that it’s been raining for 4 weeks straight here. It’s like I live on the Oregon coast or something (not that there’s anything wrong with that, I’m merely commenting on the rain totals) 😉 It looks like this weekend could be a very nice couple of days though and if it holds I’m going to bust out and do a two-batch session in an effort to catch up!

Outstanding Amber

February 6th, 2008 by Steve Travis

I’m very pleased with how this last round of amber ale turned out. I’ve updated the Faceplant Amber recipe to reflect the new incarnation. I guess were I versioning the beer it’d be Faceplant 2.2 as it was really just a fiddling of grain amounts to increase the malt backing which came through very nicely!

Cold brew day

January 1st, 2008 by Steve Travis

Happy New Year! Well I finally broke free and got some time to brew this past weekend. I’ve been out of brew since the xmas ale which went over well at the annual fiesta over at our friends place. Always a good time, that one. So I had some free time after all the family commitments and other holiday boo-rah settled down and decided to brew up the Amber recipe I’m continually tinkering with. So on a sunny, but cold day here in HMB, I broke out the gear and got to it! This time out, I upped the 1 pound of Victory malt to 2 pounds and I added 2 lbs of Munich to the regular mix of Rahr 2-row, 40L crystal, special B and flake barley. I kept my usual hop bill of Centennial backed up by Mt. Hood for flavor and aroma. I managed to secure a bunch of now rare hops several months ago when Phil from More Beer gave me the heads-up on the impending shortage. The wort had a decidedly pepper flavor that I hope comes out in the final beer. Good times.

Ok, so I started a new gig and haven’t posted in forever, so here’s a fun one

December 19th, 2007 by Steve Travis


Pumkin Ale Results and a Holiday Porter

November 12th, 2007 by Steve Travis

The Pumpkinfest Ale is half gone now, so I feel I can pass judgment on it. The backing beer was just a bit thin after I removed the crystal 75 from my amber recipe, but the spicing was dead-on and the pumpkin flavor was present but not overwhelming. Next time I’m going to up the crystal 45 by a 1/4 pound and replace a pound of 2-row with another pound of Victory. That should keep the nice orange color while building the malt character. The hops were right where I wanted them to allow some initial bitterness but then faded out and let the spices come through, which believe it or not, was the plan. 🙂

My Holiday Porter is in the fermenter and looking fine. It’ll be a bit before I taste that one. It’s going on tap for my buddy’s Christmas party the middle of next month, so I plan to have it in my kegerator, on CO2 for a week prior to get the carbonation volume correct.

How to Build a Mash Tun for $50

October 29th, 2007 by Steve Travis

Ok, I’ve been slacking on the posts lately. I’ve also been slacking on the brewing. There was a risk of burnout there for a bit, brewing every weekend, so I took two weeks off. Back at it now. Gonna fire up a Porter and have another go at my Amber recipe. In the interim, I give you my guide building a mash tun! Today – Parts inventory! YAY!

  • $25………Get a 48qt. Rubbermaid Victory cooler (this one has a drain plug which you’ll pull and add the spigot. You can pick these up at Long’s or Walgreen’s)
  • $8 – $15…Pick up a brass or stainless spigot and either a 1.5″ or 2″ threaded nipple (I think I used a 1.5″ but just unscrew the drain plug and measure).
  • $2………..1/2″ hose barb
  • $2………..High temp O-rings (x2). I like using 3/8″ ID rings for this and then stretching them around the nipple for a tighter fit. (That sounds dirty, but it’s not)
  • $5………..1/2″ ID washers (brass or stainless) Get a bag of 5 or 10. Just to use as shims between the hose barb/O-ring (inside) and spigot/O-ring (outside)
  • $10………1.5′ or 2′, 1/2″ Stainless steel braided hose (you have to hack off the ends, pull the hose out, then crimp and hammer one end down. Stick the other end on the hose barb and fasten with a hose clamp)

There ya go. Around $50 (give or take your mad Home Depot savings skillz) you have the parts for a mash tun that will last for years!