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First tour!

On Friday we were invited to visit what will become The Southern Brewing Company off Collins Industrial road in Athens. Everyone was parking on the side of the road when we arrived and walking probably 100 yards down a two rut path. Once in the clear we were greeted by Brian Roth, co-owner and founder of The Southern Brewing Co. We grab a pour of Jailhouse Brewing 4-D IPA v.18 Cloudy McFly, a collaboration with SBC. and walked towards the entrance of the brew site.IMG_2042.JPGFrom the entrance we talked about Brian’s vision of what and how it will feel driving in and around the bend to discover the brewery hidden from passers by. Everything is still on schedule for a spring 2015 opening. We stopped back by the jockey box for another pour and then talked beer with Mark Mooney who is the brewer for SBC. We’ve been brewing with Mark at Gratis for a couple of years now and have learned a lot. He studied at the Siebel Institute in Chicago and recently shared a Berries Bourbon County Stout with us at Gratis for Bumpkinfest that he helped with while studying at Siebel.IMG_2044-2.JPG
It was now time to grab a fresh pour, which by the way if you are around Athens and see this beer on tap I highly recommend it. The only trouble is this will be a tough first beer to follow-up but Mark and Brian already have plans on how to improve it; tough job! So we grabbed another beer and walked towards the erector set going up in the back of the property. Brian pointed to areas of the site and talked about what will be where. He then described the vision of the brewery, like where we will park, where visitors will park, where roll up doors will be and where the farmer’s market will be. Then we stepped inside the brewery and from there you can start to envision where will enjoy our first beer at. The great thing about start from dirt is you can pour a floor that’s made for a tank farm with a drain and a sloped floor. I can say I’m the first person to check into a SBC at SBC on UnTappd. We then talked to Rick Goddard about our thoughts on the beer and we agree it’s going to be tough to make it better but they all want to make it better.IMG_2045.JPGAfter talking beer for a couple of hours everyone was rounded up and we all went to Catch 22 for dinner, also SBC collab beer was on draft there too. While it’s off topic I will say that I think Chef Miley has a winner with his Porknado Burger. It’s a burger with pulled pork, bacon and bacon mayo and it’s delicious.IMG_2047.JPG
If you are out and about this weekend in Athens stop into Trappeze, Catch 22, 5 Points Growlers, Grindhouse and Savory Spoon. By early next week you will be able to find it at Fuzzy’s Taco, Turtle Creek and The Volstead. Do yourself a favor, find it and drink it fresh.

[drink local]

More suds

Every beer blog I read has already posted a two thousand and fourteen page talking about beer this year, etc.  So here goes mine, but there’s really something to be excited about other than saying I’m going to write more (many of you would prefer me to write less or even none).  You see what’s about to happen in Athens, Georgia is the local breweries are actually going to double.  How many people can say that?

Currently Athens is home to, the now ever vastly expanding, regional brewery Terrapin Beer Company.  It’s also home to Copper Creek Brewing Company, also known as the home of wing night.  They have great wings on sale Thursday night and if I’m lucky Sarah lets me go twice a month, but normally only once a month because she loves me.  In 2014 Athens will see doors open and beers pouring from two new breweries, Creature Comforts and The Southern Brewing Co.

photo credit CCBC

Creature Comforts

Creature Comforts

is housed in the old Snow Tire Co. building on W. Hancock St. downtown.  With Creature Beer being downtown, it’s a prime location which will certainly be at capacity during game weekends.  They recently received their tanks and posted plenty of pictures over on their blog.

credit CCBC

CCBC tanks arriving

photo credit CCBC

Line up!

From reading their site they will brew on a 30 barrel brew house and as you can see above, has a lot of fermentation capacity from the rip.  They posted on Facebook that their Berliner will be in cans, so let’s hope all of their beers wind up in our favorite aluminum container.

The Southern Brewing Company

The Southern Brewing Company

has acquired land along Collins Industrial Boulevard, which runs alongside highway 29, and is across from McLane Trucking.  They are working on plans for clearing land and building right now.  Brian Roth, a 10 year brewing veteran, is working diligently to make his dreams come true.

Concept 2 - phase 1 includes a 10k sq. ft. brewery with huge bier garden

Concept 2 – phase 1 includes a 10k sq. ft. brewery with huge bier garden

He has the help of long time friend and co-founder Rick Goddard (you’ll soon realize he’s not American once you go to his bio page) and brewer Mark Mooney, so he’s surrounded by good help.  I’ve never seen anyone as proficient as Rick clean not one, but two giant 15 gallon pumpkins in a single brew day.  If you ever need a trust worthy bottle filler then call on Mark.  I’ve never seen Mark pull a bottling bucket off the table while bottling and I can’t say that about Brian.

What’s great about SBC is their love for brewing, the community and the camaraderie that comes with it.   We started out as a cleaner at Gratis Brewing, the home brew pilot system for SBC, and have moved up to collaborator.  Remember the great things we said about Rick?

Rick fisting a gourd

It’s a very rough timeline because there are still a lot of hurdles to jump or knock down, but they are tentatively planning to brew on their system in July.  I didn’t think I’d ever say this but summer can come soon enough.

Single hop ale – Cascade

First runnings

First runnings

Probably the last beer I’ll brew until Fall unless things work out for the better.  It’s the first week of May and unlike last year, we have yet to turn on the air conditioner.  So we could have brewed a batch but again, time is short now a days.  After Denver brewed an IPA using Dry English Ale yeast as Stone Brewing does, Brian and I had to get on the bandwagon.  As I’ve done with all the beers I brewed this year, we’ve stuck with lower ABV targets, all under 5%.  But brewing on Gratis Brewing’s system gave us a better efficiency.  Even with a yeast mistake this single hop Cascade pale ale still attenuated to 5.5% ABV.

oxygen insertion

oxygen insertion

By no means can I say I’m knowledgeable of  all hops, but I might know someone who is.  I do know which ones I have brewed with and of those that I really like.  Cascade would be the major one that I really enjoy.  There are many commercial examples of beers that solely use Cascade hops.  It is also one that falls in the bittering and aroma category.  Thankfully Mark over at 5 Points Growlers and Home Brew Supply opened a fresh bag of Cascade leaf hops for me.  Posting a full Ziploc bag holding six ounces of Cascade hops had quite the remarks on BookFace.  Using Gratis’ setup warranted some recipe changes since I’m not fully familiar with brewing what I would consider double batches.  I have yet to brew a really good beer on his system too.  But I have no problem wearing a rookie shirt and brewing in the minor leagues still.  One day though, right?  I think I ended up adding 5.25 oz of Cascade hops.  I should have asked Brian to dry hop the two carboys, which would have been tough with those .75 oz of Cascade hops in my fridge at home.

Cascade carboys

Cascade carboys

The yeast mistake garners the minor league pay too.  Using a very fresh vial from 5 Pts. I propagated it to 1 liter.  Then I split it, using not quite half of it for the White Pale Mutt along with the German Hefeweizen yeast.  That beer did turn out really well.  Still too much banana and bubble gum from that WLP-300 yeast strand, but the WLP-007 dried it out nicely.  So I took the harvest Dry English Ale yeast from the fridge and propagated that to 1L, then I stepped it to 2L and would use that to pitch with.  My FG was only 1.o20 which isn’t bad, but I was hoping for more like 1.013 FG.  With the super efficiency of the soon to be known Southern Brewing Co. pilot system, it still shot over our 4.8% ABV and ended up with 5.5% ABV.  The beer is drinking nice with a mild bitterness and some subtle sweetness with the higher final gravity.  My hop schedule was 60 minutes, 30, 15, 10 and finally 5 minutes.  Without the yeast mess up and some dry hopping, this would be a great beer.  It’s going to be just fine as a good beer to get us through the Summer months.

cheers to rainy days

cheers to rainy days

Now if we want to talk about great beers brewed the same day using the same yeast strain then I have to mention the SBC Racing Mud Puddle IPA.  Last night served kind of like the release party for SBC Racing.  Brewed with a first wort hopping of NZ Hallertau, then bittered constantly throughout the boil with Motueka and finally dry hopped with Citra.  It runs the color of a murky Georgia red clay mud puddle and drinks like a peach NEHI.   Such a great beer and check out SBC Racing on BookFace.

Later we’re going to talk about our first attempt at brewing parti-gyle style.  An ancient brewing style that uses the same grain to produce different batches of beer, all being lower in ABV from the original.

Cheers race fans!

SBCR mud puddle IPA

SBCR mud puddle IPA

SBC Racing Mud Puddle

SBC Racing Mud Puddle

Hop Back To It

additions and consumptions

additions and consumptions

I hope some of you don’t read too much into that title.  This post isn’t related to our new Southern Brewing Company t-shirts saying “We’re going to need a bigger hop back.”  It’s in reference to finally have some free time to relax with some home brew and do some writing, err typing.  Work has certainly consumed the weekdays to the point that I have enough time to work, eat and sleep.  The weekends have been consumed with everything from concerts to weddings to travelling.  The travelling is about to come full circle too.  If you’re in the know, well then ya know.

I’m sure you’ve forgotten like I have, but our first brew was a hoppy wheat beer brewed a couple of nights before New Year’s Day.  I then got a last-minute inspiration to brew a white pale ale, dubbed White Pale Mutt.  I wanted to continue playing with yeast after successfully washing a WLP-300 German Hefeweizen culture and propagating it.  So I brewed a light grain bill using Sorachi Ace hops for their known lemon and citrus notes.  I finished the boil off with some Cascade for more citrus notes and tossed in some fresh sweet orange peel for good measures.  I blended the washed WLP-300 culture with a fresh WLP-007 Dry English Ale strand.  I propagated that strand too and split it, using half on this brew and refrigerating the rest.  This will prove fatal to me later.  Oh well, what do you do?  Brew and learn!

Secondary runnings

Secondary running

I took advantage of an off Friday to get this brew in.  It really fell together a day or two before after sipping on a Westbrook White Thai.  I thankfully found Sorachi Ace hops at 5 Points Growlers and Brew Supply, which is where I found the really fresh vial of WLP-007.  I threw a pork butt and a couple of whole chickens in the smoker to keep me occupied during down time.  I shouldn’t take on so many hobbies at once, but I for the most part have brewing at home down.  Not so much at Gratis, but I’m learning, so I won’t be smoking any meat there while I’m brewing just yet.

Sweet orange peel

Sweet orange peel

I threw in more fresh orange sweet peel during bottling but even the small amount of bottle carbonation blew that off too.  The beer fresh was awesome lemon/citrus bitterness.  The dry English ale yeast helped subdue the big German Hefeweizen yeast notes of banana and bubble-gum flavors that are so known with that culture.  It’s a great beer for Summer and even Spring.  But since Spring isn’t here yet, and I’m not complaining, we’ll decide if we sit on them or slowly sip them.



We did some more brewing but it was at Gratis Brewing.  I want to keep these next few posts short, so we’ll be there next time.


The Return of Bumpkin

As life slaps me in the face, I turn a cheek and find some fun times had the past few months.  One of the funniest being Bumpkin Fest, or rather as it’ll be known for this year, The Return of Bumpkin.  You may recall last year at Gratis for the first time a pumpkin ale was brewed.  But rather than the traditional ho-hum pumpkin ale, we brewed inside a giant orange gourd.  Even on that day we started planning for this year’s version.  The pumpkin held up so well then that we decided to brew multiple batches through the same pumpkin.  This however would not work according to plan.

Punk Tun mash tun

We found out during Six Strain brew day that it is possible to brew three batches in the same day.  If you start before the crack of dawn and have enough people to handle all the other chores associated with brewing.  So again we start before the butt crack of dawn.  I arrive to meet Rick for the first time (co-founder of The Southern Brewing Co.) and his bro-in-law Eddie.  I’m not sure what Cloudy has against Eddie, but he was separating pumpkin seeds from the meat.  That’s a tough job at 6 am on a Saturday.  Getting a pumpkin that will hold 15 – 20 pounds of grain inside is tough enough, but getting two has to be a real chore.  Worse yet, this went down on September 8, planned around when we were both available and not a Dawgs home game.  Sarah was in SSI for a bachelorette weekend and UGA was preparing to whoop Mizzou later that night.  So imagine finding two huge pumpkins almost a month before October?

Brian found plenty of pumpkins, two giants plus multiple others to use in the mash and boil if needed.  He would start the brew day brewing last year’s recipe with some tweaks, mainly the yeast and spice additions.  But not before the feared brew day phantom showed its wrath.  The first pumpkin gets plumbed and we discover a leak.  Now last year’s was solid, but had a leak also.  By the end of the mash and sparge last year we had lost maybe 2 – 3 cups of wort.  This pumpkin was loosing water at a rate of about a cup every 2 – 3 minutes.  Brian made some adjustments to the copper manifold inside to try to level it through rind, since it appeared it was coming through at an angle.  Looking back at last year’s pumpkin just now it was completely flat on one side from growing that way without being turned.  So maybe for next year we’ll hunt down a flat bottom pumpkin?  Second giant pumpkin is gutted and ready as Brian finally comes to senses that this one isn’t going to work.  Eddie gets screwed again separating seeds from that stringy mess.  We fill the second pumpkin with water and realize it’s not going to hold enough mash and water for the brews we’re looking at doing.  So Brian begins to dig out some more meat when he realizes that I was standing there with the temperature probe through the wall and uses it to dig a gash into his hand.  This was only the first brew day phantom’s attack.

dry graham cracker ingredients with rice hulls

The beer I was brewing would be the second batch of the day.  A pumpkin porter brewed with graham crackers.  I was content on adding real graham crackers to the mash, but Brian (with much more knowledge) was certain it would plug the grain bed.  So he found an Alton Brown recipe for graham crackers and purchased the dry ingredients for me to use in the mash.  The brew day phantom showed again and the pumpkin was leaking after the first batch finished.  We found it Rick cleaned the spent grain using a small electric wet/dry vac from Lowes.  Well, he labored away and shoveled out most of the grain.  The vac was a good idea and held up well with the heat.  I have a video that WP won’t allow me to post unless I pay them.  Brian and I start racking our brains on how to get the punk tun to stop leaking.  Apparently his idea is to slice his hand on some tin and bleed every where.  My idea is to trash the pumpkin and use the actual lauter tun.  After enough blood for one day he reluctantly bows and I think the brew day phantom has left the premises for this day.  My brew finishes without hiccups and the third batch of the day gets underway.

Miley’s spicy shrimp & grits

The third batch is a wicked with ingredients, maple bacon coffee, coconut, pumpkin of course and finally after fermentation, aged in whiskey barrels on more coconut.  This batch finishes with no problems also.  Some where during all the mass confusion of brewing Chef Miley showed up and brought over lunch, spicy Cajun shrimp and grits.  I finally dug into some after my brew finished and damn it was good.  We finally get around to cleaning everything up and getting myself into shower.  It’s a good thing after sweating in a brew shirt all day I smelled worse than wet puppy dog.  Meanwhile during all this beer brewing and shenanigans Jen had been slaving away in the kitchen.  It was pot luck style so she cooked everyone’s pot luck.  She also made turtle burgers, which are burgers with hot dogs through the body to protrude as the legs, head and tail of the turtle.  Plus bacon lattice is used for the turtle’s shell.

Jen’s now famous turtle burgers

After dinner a sheet was hung outside and we enjoyed the Georgia game against Mizzou.  We enjoyed the second half more than the first.  A few bottles were popped too.  Oh, and nearly after all the brewing was done Matt and Kathleen showed up with a closet full of BBA Sexual Chocolate.  So that, a Hunahpu along with the (at the time) Nantahala’s only bottle releases, a BBA RIS and a IIPA.  I think a combination of slight dehydration and lack of sleep the next morning was brutal.  I almost caught wind while everyone else cleaned.  Jen saved the day again with breakfast.

All that is left to do now is to open all the bottles, along with mine and the lone bottle of last year’s Bumpkin.  Which may very well happen during tonight’s NFL game.  Brian also created two great beer labels.  Along with a poster of The Return of Bumpkin, which is framed and hanging in our garage.

Cheers to Gratis, Denver, Jen, Miley, Rick and Eddie.  We wait patiently listening to Wu-Tang Clan on SBC’s birth.

Graham Kraken

Return of Bumpkin

One beer six yeasts

Gratis Six Strain

Gratis Six Strain

Way back around the early part of June, shortly after Cloudy visited White Labs near tap-room sorta speak in San Diego, we decided to mimic the creation of brewing a single beer and fermenting it with different yeast strains.  What started out as a good idea on social media sites ended up being almost 13 hours of brewing.  Did I mention this was outside during June in Georgia?

The ‘on-going’ project was to brew the same beer and ferment it with different yeast strains to show the different styles of yeast.  So far we have only done three split batches which yielded six 5 gallon batches, all using Belgian style yeasts.  Belgian yeasts usually withstand the age of time, hence the reason to use them first.  Hopefully one day we’ll get around to brewing the rest of the 24 batches.  I won’t go into detail on the tastes of each pour, but just give the yeast manufacturer’s descriptions.  Seeing as how I’m struggling with picking up on the exact tastes that I’m getting from each strain.

#1 Wyeast 3711 French Saison

#1 Wyeast 3711 French Saison

Wyeast 3711 French Saison – A very versatile strain that produces Saison or farmhouse style biers as well as other Belgian style beers that are highly aromatic (estery), peppery, spicy and citrusy. This strain enhances the use of spices and aroma hops, and is extremely attenuative but leaves an unexpected silky and rich mouthfeel. This strain can also be used to re-start stuck fermentations or in high gravity beers.

The French Saison yeast will do exactly what it says it will do, ‘re-start’ stuck fermentations.  I brewed a Saison a couple of years ago using their Belgian Saison yeast strain, 3724 I believe.  Just as it describes, it will ‘stick’ and will not finish out unless warmed just as the beers did in yesteryear during the summer months.  This was my second most favorite strain.  Remember that Saisons or farmhouse ales were brewed to quench farmer’s thirst during harvest (fall) months.  So the yeast strain had to withstand warmer summer months of fermentation.  Yes, even before Al Gore invented Global Warming.  (I read that on his internet)

#2 Whitelabs WLP072 French Ale

#2 White Labs WLP072 French Ale

White Labs WLP072 French Ale yeast – Clean strain that complements malt flavor. Low to moderate esters, when fermentation temperature is below 70F. Moderate plus ester character over 70F. Low diacetyl production. Good yeast strain for Biere de Garde, blond, amber, brown ales, and specialty beers

My least favorite of all the strains.

#3 Whitelabs WLP568 Belgian

#3 White Labs WLP568 Belgian

White Labs WLP568 Belgian Saison yeast blends – This blend melds Belgian style ale and Saison strains. The strains work in harmony to create complex, fruity aromas and flavors. The blend of yeast strains encourages complete fermentation in a timely manner. Phenolic, spicy, earthy, and clove like flavors are also created.

One of the prettier of all six of the beers.  My second least favorite however.

#4 Whitelabs WLP670 American Farmhouse

#4  White Labs WLP670 American Farmhouse

White Labs WLP670 American Farmhouse Blend – Inspired by local American brewers crafting semi-traditional Belgian-style ales. This blend creates a complex flavor profile with a moderate level of sourness. It consists of a traditional farmhouse yeast strain and Brettanomyces. Great yeast for farmhouse ales, Saisons, and other Belgian-inspired beers.

Middle of the road for me but it should develop more over time since it has a level of funky bacteria in it.

#5 Whitelabs WLP565 Belgian Saison

#5 White Labs WLP565 Belgian Saison

White Labs WLP565 Belgian Saison yeast – Classic Saison yeast from Wallonia. It produces earthy, peppery, and spicy notes. Slightly sweet. With high gravity Saisons, brewers may wish to dry the beer with an alternate yeast added after 75% fermentation.

The equivalent of Wyeast’s 3724 yeast that I previously used, this yeast will ‘stick’ and may need another blend to finish, or dry the beer out.  My favorite strain of the six.  While the description says it may stick, Cloudy nailed the fermentation and this finished out quite dry.  My favorite of the bunch!

#6 Whitelabs WLP566 Belgian Saison II

#6 White Labs WLP566 Belgian Saison II

White Labs WLP566 Belgian Saison II yeast – Saison strain with more fruity ester production than with WLP565. Moderately phenolic, with a clove-like characteristic in finished beer flavor and aroma. Ferments faster than WLP565.

A ‘better’ strain than 565 for those that struggle, myself included, with controlling fermentation temps.

All I can say is how much fun it’s going to be going to San Diego and hanging out at White Labs.  I can’t say brewing three more batches for 13 hours in the middle of the summer will be fun.  But we had a damn good time doing it.  Also for those that are not aware, Gratis is going pro!  Coming early in 2014 Athens will be home to The Southern Brewing Company.  Gratis will remain Gratis, a true social learning environment for homebrew experimentations.  Just like we did with the Bumpkin brews this year.  Which are just now coming to proper carbonation levels.

More on the pumpkin porter I brewed during The Return of Bumpkin day soon.  Prost!

SBC logo

SBC logo

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