The Half Moon Brewer is off for the holidays!

December 21st, 2010 by Steve Travis

You’ll notice a lack of posts recently. I’m off on holiday vacation with Mrs. Brewer and the little brewers tearing up the Tahoe area with sleds and snowboards! However, upon return I have a lot of catch-up brewing to do! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, everyone!

2011 National Homebrewer’s Convention

November 22nd, 2010 by Steve Travis
Registration is now open for next year’s NHC! I have officially been given the green light by Mrs. Halfmoonbrewer to head down to sunny San Diego from June 16th-18th for my first trip to the conference. Needless to say, I’m excited! Hope to see a few friends there!

Anchor Chrismas Ale

November 16th, 2010 by Steve Travis
As the clock strikes 11:59 on October 31, millions of stores box up their Halloween fun and pump the Christmas music up to 11 because nothing says November like freakin Santa Claus. Yeah, I hate that too, but there are one or two things that that I don’t mind showing up a bit prematurely on the shelves and one of them is all the holiday ales. I have a trepidacious relationship with Anchor Christmas Ale. Some years, it’s a soothing, warming, sit-by-the-fire experience. Other years, I feel like I’m sucking on a xmas tree… that’s been flocked. This is kind of the fun about Anchor’s holiday offering that they never brew the same annual twice. But it makes the first sip a bit of an adventure, seized by the notion that you may be about to waterboard your taste buds. But take heart! The 2010 Christmas Ale is NOT one of those. In fact, this may turn out to be one of my favorite holiday brews this year. The first sip is certainly spicy and malty with a nod to the resiny hops, but it quickly settles down into a very enjoyable, almost desert-like
experience. The roasty character melds nicely with the spice-forward notes, but this isn’t a drink-a-sixer in one sitting type beers. This is a sit-with-a-good-book-after-dinner-kids-are-in-bed type experience. Nice one, Anchor!

Taybeh Brewery – The only brewery in Palistine

November 9th, 2010 by Steve Travis

I’m not sure if I can think of a harder situation in which to run a brewery. He’s 20 miles from Jerusalem in the West bank town of Taybeh.  I can’t imagine what this guy and his family have to go through just to brew his beer. He’s hosed by the blockades, the broken peace process, and the constant fighting that must be happening right near him, but he still pulls it off! He even looks like he’s having a good time! Best of luck, my friend, the brewing world is pulling for you!

For a bit more info here’s the Brewery’s page on Wikipedia.

Heretic Brewing Company – Jamil Zainasheff

November 5th, 2010 by Steve Travis
Heretic Brewing Company If you’ve been homebrewing for any length of time, you likely know the name Jamil Zainasheff. Jamil’s won just about every award there is for homebrewing and has written one of my favorite books, “Brewing Classic Styles”. Well, long story short: Jamil has decided to open a brewery! Heretic Brewing Company will be located in the East Bay of the San Francisco area and we should start seeing product by
some time in early 2011. It’s always exciting when a new brewery opens up, but this is all the more buzz-worthy due to Jamil’s involvement. Best of luck, sir! Can’t wait to enjoy the brews! He announced the formation of the brewery in this weeks episode of Brewing TV (@16:13).

Brew Masters with Sam Calagione

November 2nd, 2010 by Steve Travis
Sam Calagione On November 21st, The Discovery Channel will premier a new show called Brew Masters, hosted by Sam Calagione (of Dogfish Head Brewery). I’m very much looking forward to watching this. I hope it doesn’t turn into a show about what weird stuff some people put into their beer, but rather a show like No Reservations, where it’s about culture and its effect on the brew. I’ll be setting my TiVo!  Click here for the promo video.


November 2nd, 2010 by Steve Travis

Then relax, don’t worry, have a homebrew!

“Letters to a Young Brewer” – Consistency

October 27th, 2010 by Steve Travis

You’ve brewed a few beers and they’ve come out to your liking.  You perhaps even have a favorite beer recipe that you’ve made more than a few times now.  Your pals all love your beer, or drink it like they do, and you feel like you have this whole thing down.  But how do you know?

When I first started brewing, I was bottling my beer instead of kegging it, as I do now.  I would always keep two or three bottles of a particular brew that I liked, marked with an type/date (IPA,10/06) on the cap, hanging out in the back of the fridge.  After I would brew the same recipe again, I would take my notes from the brew day and compare them to the last brew day for this beer.  Did I hit the same (or similar) OG, did I get the same volume in the fermenter, etc.?  But the proof of consistency isn’t just in the forensics of the brew notes, but in the flavor of the beer.  So after the new batch was ready, I’d drag out one of the bottles from the old batch and one from the new and have a little tasting.  Now aged beer will have some different characters to it than new beer, but after you’re used to how a beer settles down, you’ll be able to detect those without noting them as true “differences”.  After a month, I would do another test to see if the beers were aging along the same path.  These two taste tests gave me a pretty good baseline for whether or not I had achieved consistency.

There’s nothing wrong with brewing the same recipe and having it come out a bit different each time, nor is it a sign of a bad brewer.  However, for those looking to master the process, consistency is king.  In my own brewing, my beers have become more consistent over time as my brew day process has become more consistent.  Brewing on the same gear, over and over, will get you some of the way there.  Knowing the numbers of your previous batch (OG, FG, fermentation temp, yeast type, etc.) and having some of the older brew around for comparison, will help you better understand why things could be different between brews.  When you start eliminating those differences, you gain consistency.