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Stout Day

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So this past Thursday, November 8th was International Stout Day. It’s just another pseudo social media holiday created by someone who’s name will not be hard to find via the Google machine or a visit to StoutDay.com. Last year on a whim, me, Denver and Miley decided to drink a couple of stouts over at Miley’s house. Unlike this year, last year Friday totally sucked. The list this year was just as bad ass as last years, except we were accompanied by three others plus a couple of wives, Sarah included this year to even out the butt whooping we would have had. Miley mad a big batch of Green Flash Double Stout chorizo chili with chocolate thrown in. Yeah, it was as good as it sounds. As far as what the list looked like? You can check out my Untappd list for Thursday, or look at the picture.

Cheers!

Beer Run: Nantahala Trail Magic

Trail Magic

Trail Magic

This past Saturday, March 10, Nantahala Brewing Company had their first ever bottle release.  Everything before this has been on draught some where if not at the brewery.  You’ll recall last summer we stopped in after a rafting trip with my family at NOC.  I said it then and I’ll say it again.  There brews are solid.  Since the last time we were there they’ve changed head brewers.  Chris left to stay put in Atlanta.  Not sure why, maybe it was that day job in ATL while moonlighting as a brewer in North Carolina that did him in?  So now Greg takes the place as head brewer.  His words to me were, “It was a case of being in the right place at the right time.”

Saturday was gorgeous and we couldn’t have asked for a nicer drive heading north into the mountains.  We were of course late leaving, but Sarah did manage to get out of the bed shortly after I asked her to wake up.  Jumping in the car at 8:23 with GPS showing exactly 11:00 made me one happy beer run kiddo.  So off we go into those their mountains.  We make a few stops and get to the brewery around 11:20 or so.  For everyone else in Athens, make this trip.  441 almost all the way with hardly any traffic.  There’s probably 20 – 30 people on the patio socializing.  We notice A.J., newly dubbed Wort, and take up conversation about what each of us have done lately.

early crowd

early crowd

Being the first bottle release would have to be a big deal right?  And a big deal it was.  Friday night marked the first tapping of the first in the Trail Magic series.  A bourbon barrel aged stout.  Also planned for Friday night was a rare and homebrew bottle swap.  We didn’t make it, but heard it was a great time.  Saturday at noon when the brewery opened each person would be allowed to buy four 750mL bottles.  They were swiping cards using their iPads which was pretty nice.  As nice as the brewery if you’ve never had the opportunity to sit at that nice long bar.  The first person I had the pleasure of talking to was head brewer Greg.  He was nice enough to offer up a sample of their yet to be released Session Rye pale ale.  I told him we were up from Athens and his reply was that the Session Rye PA was loosely brewed after Terrapin‘s Rye PA, because of his enjoyment of it.  I had a sample of the Trail Magic and it was awesome.  I can’t wait to start popping those bottles.

We later were lucky enough to get a brewery tour from the owner’s fiance.  To our surprise, she mentioned they are actually living there at the moment with her daughter.  Since the last time we were there they’ve built a climate controlled barrel room.  I must say this is better than even our local brewery that I know I’ve noticed their filled barrels hanging around in the open parts of the working areas.  She was such a sweet lady, and a Dawg fan.  So thanks Jen for showing us around.  We didn’t hang around long as we had the drive back before us.  Though they did later that night tap a firkin of Trail Magic also.  Many bottles didn’t get sold.  They have since put those for sale in the brewery.  If you’re in the area or not to far away, I highly recommend it.

Belgian Dirty Blonde Golden

Belgian Dirty Blonde Golden

Greg also told us about the other two brews in the Trail Magic series.  The next is scheduled for June 8-9 and will be a lemon grass double IPA.  I told him we would certainly be there for it.  I’d even texted the rest of the Wolfpac (who were in Tampa for Cigar City‘s Hunahpu Day) that we could get a cabin for the weekend near-by and make the bottle swap on Friday night.  Twenty minutes down the road Sarah realizes and reminds me that we’re in Hilton Head Island that weekend.  Oh well, guess we have to keep our fingers crossed that they will still have some for sale the next weekend.  The third release will be a barley wine.  Hopefully during an away game in October, but not during the bye week.  As Sarah is in a wedding that weekend.

We safely arrive home with our goods.  One is chilling the rest are chillaxin in the beer closet.  It’s been tough putting words to paper, or monitor, file, site, however you’d phrase this.  Reason being tomorrow is vacation with a tight agenda.  We’re brewing a Belgian IPA at Gratis Brewing with hopes that it’ll be ready for the Athens’ Classic City Brew Fest tailgate, the day before the actually fest.  Their may be some first wort hopping going on tomorrow.  Keep Twitter running in the background people.  It may get kinda crazy.

Prost!

That’s Good Head

This is me pouring a Cacao Brunch Milk Stout.  It’s a milk stout brewed with cacao nibs and then aged on a couple more ounces of nibs along with some coffee grounds.  The sad thing is the head starts to dissipate as soon as it forms.  The good thing is it means I’ll re-brew this one.

Cheers!

Update – I realized after I was in bed that the video doesn’t show on mobile devices (or maybe just my recently bricked iPhone), so here’s a link.  Click here.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Cacao Brunch Milk Stout

mash

mash

If you know me, you know how methodical I am. There is a method to do everything and everything has a method. When I went to brew a milk stout back on December 4th with chocolate and coffee, well it was anything but methodical. It started with the base recipe for Terrapin Beer Company‘s Wake n Bake Imperial Coffee Stout. I listened to this on the podcast show Can You Brew It. I think it got a vote of 1-3 for not cloned. I then decided that I’d add some lactose, which is milk sugar and is non-fermentable, meaning it leaves behind sweetness to the final beer. I wanted to add some chocolate also. I’ve done cocoa powder in the past and while it didn’t give any problems, it didn’t lend much flavor either. So I found an 8oz bag of organic cacao nibs at Earthfare here in Athens. My last worry was how to add the coffee. Well the last worry I had when I was building the recipe.

So going into brewing you have to make a starter. Which is basically brewing a 1L – 2L batch of beer using DME (dry malt extract), and allowing the yeast cells to multiple off the easy sugars. I’ve only had trouble out of one yeast starter before and that was a dead smack pack that never inflated, meaning dead yeast cells. So I make the starter and pitch the yeast and wake-up the next day expecting some head in the flask or some action in the airlock. I have nothing though. In true form, I’m too excited to brew just because of dead yeast. But I was lucky the first time. I brewed, ran to the LHBS (local home brew store) and pitched on fresh wort after two days with no problems. This time I did the same getting a replacement from a new LHBS after explaining it appeared the yeast were dead. So I return home and pour the vial directly into the primary and wait. The next day there is still no activity, hmm? So I pull out both vials and read the labels. Yeah, you’d think I’d done that first. The first vial was outdated by a month past the recommended date. Now this shouldn’t matter, because I’m making a starter to liven up those cells. The second vial was newer though not fresh. The vial I used this past weekend I would consider fresh, it was a few weeks old. You generally count back four months from the recommended date to determine the production date. The other important piece of information on the vial was the temperature range, 70°-75°. Well its Georgia’s beginning on the now almost defunct pseudo winter, so the house is a nice 64°. Turns out, them cells were just napping and snuggling to keep warm. I poured about 6 gallons of near 80° water into a plastic container with the primary sitting in it. Once the temperature strip on the primary neared 70°, they woke up. Every other day or so I’d auto siphon out half the water and get it near boiling and pour it back in to keep them going. I checked the gravity after a couple of weeks and it was close to where I wanted the FG. So it ended up taking a month to fully ferment. What I did learn from this (besides to read) was that if you rush fermentation, or rack off yeast before its fermented, it gives off flavors. I think some people stick to the two week rule regardless of gravity and it will almost ruin the beer. I believe I did this while trying to brew a stout last year.

The other worries

How do I brew with cacao nibs? One thing I learned while playing golf is that once you learn the basics, ignore the tips in magazines. One magazine says to practice putting with three balls to learn speed, line, etc. The next magazine will say only practice putting with one ball you don’t get additional tries on the course, so put pressure on yourself to make them all. Both are valid. So for nibs I’m going to do ignore all the posts I read on HBT that show pictures of chunky stout full of nibs. I throw my 6oz of nibs straight into the boil. I’m thinking its chocolate, that’s 200° wort, it has to melt. Next in goes my wort chiller to fully sanitize it and WTF, where’s my boil? There was so much flaked oat and barley I had a longer than normal mash plus I’m going 90 min boil, I shat my propane tank. Stop laughing! I threw the lid on it and started counting in my head for the last 15 minutes. Well, no, I set my phone for 15 minutes, but every other piece of civilization was spent, so why use it. It took near an hour to pour and filter the wort into primary. Some of the nibs had melted, obviously not all of them. Then along came the coffee crisis. It’s post Christmas now so I’m stocked on coffee. Sarah, the in-laws, myself included, usually gift whole bean coffee. What I did get was Starbucks Christmas blend, which I enjoy. What I didn’t get was Jittery Joes or Caribou, which I salivate over. So a quick stop by the local Jittery Joes to get probably Wake n Bake over Depth Charge. Sarah has a hard time enjoy the darkness of Depth Charge as coffee, plus it is WnB base recipe. But with lactose and chocolate plus Depth Charge, there is potential to be a Depth Charge clone. Ha! What coffee? The only bean they had was JJ decaf, Two Stories decaf and the bicycle blend, which I’m sure is roasted to try and eliminate mid morning ride poop urges with the banana seat riding deep. Really? The…THE local coffee company is out of coffee? Christmas blend it is. So today is the day to add the remaining nibs and coffee. I read up on coffee (going against my belief already, I know) and find most people on HBT cold brew. Well cold brew takes 12-24 hours, screw it, I’m chunking grinds! After carefully filling a hop sack with nibs and grinds I bang out some coffee bean dust and dunk it in.

coffee grinds and cacao nibs

coffee grinds and cacao nibs

Finally I’m ready to bottle. All goes smooth and out comes 48 bottles of hopeful to be great morning coffee. I fully blame Foothills Brewing on my new found addiction of brunch coffee. See the ORF post here. I asked people on Facebook to name this homebrew and one of my favorites was Shockalatte. But since a latte doesn’t consist of chocolate but mocha does, I just went with Cacao Brunch Milk Stout. I popped the first bottle this weekend with brunch and hello chocolate. The Starbucks went #failblog on me, but it may show up along with the carbonation. It’s only been in the bottle a week, so carbonation isn’t there yet. Next week it should start coming through and hopefully brings the coffee with it. If not, I’m happy with cacao milk and 8.5% abv in a beer glass.

As I mentioned early I brewed this past weekend. It was the fourth time I’ve brewed my original recipe American pale ale that I dry hop each time. This is the fourth tweak to the recipe. Tweak two and three each earned fourth place finishes in separate competitions. Hopefully this will earn gold.

Pints Up!

Homebrewing: Gratis Brewing

Gratis Brewing

Gratis Brewing

Most men turn their hobbies into a way of life.  I’ve done this numerous times.  Racing dirt bikes from a kid into early adult years.  Toward the end of that hobby, I picked up golf.  All of these brings it own group of friends or acquaintances.  Both of these were in some what competitive environments.  So when I began homebrewing I was positive again I’d meet all new people.  It’s non-competitive, even during a competition.  It’s relaxing, except during bottling maybe.  Think about it.  A bear and a rabbit could sit down and have a good conversation over a couple of pints, talking about pints of course.

7 gal whiskey barrels

Gratis Brewing whiskey barrels

So meeting Brian and being invited to a brew day at Gratis Brewing would prove to be pivotal.  It’s a newb brewer’s dream set-up.  It’s a 13 gallon all-grain system with a RIMS pump for constant circulation.  Three burners can supply heat to any stage of the process all at once, or whenever you like.  Complete that with a 14 gallon conical fermentor, keg fermentor and a combination of newly acquired whiskey or dark rum barrels for aging.

My first invite was back in late winter on a sudden cold snap that ended up being a very cold day.  See a great production video of that day here.  Yeaster Sunday  We brewed a beer that is still talked about today.  Maybe because I just opened the last growler in existence when I started typing this blog.  But quite possibly because it was just that good.  It was a Belgian black IPA with a massive amount of Belgian sugar and loads of hops.  I think someone told Brian to go big or go home, so he went home and went big.

Honey Badger of Oats Stout

Honey Badger of Oats Stout

On a not so recent (now) brew day I was tasked with coming up with a recipe after being asked what I’d like to brew.  First, my lack of remembering that the last brew was an oatmeal raisin stout that is now happily aging away in a dark rum barrel.  So what do I recommend?  An oatmeal stout nonetheless.  I was trying to make it similar to Southern Tier Oat which is awesome.  I recall falling asleep as I was trying to write the recipe in BeerSmith 1.4, so it’s possibly not the best recipe ever.  A recent thiefing of the fermenter gave us a nice sample of what could be a very good stout.  Now we wait on the final product and a cold autumn/winter night to fire up the camp fire.

loaner 7gal Gratis Brewing whiskey barrel

loaner 7gal Gratis Brewing whiskey barrel

Which reminds me that I need to finalize this double rye imperial IPA recipe so I can get it into the loaner whiskey barrel.  If you get as excited about other people brewing as I do, you don’t have to be in attendance to enjoy their day.  Check out the Gratis Brewing Facebook page to see what’s brewing, fermenting or aging.

Let’s raise a glass of homebrew to Brian.  Pints Up!

Chocolate milk lovers; we found the cow.

My first Moo Hoo

My first Moo Hoo

People have long pondered the fact of what color cow chocolate milk comes from.  I love chocolate milk.  I could care less what color the cow is.  Unless it’s tainted milk of course.  So for beer lovers, nonhomebrewers, it’s how you make a beer sweet.  Well, it’s with a chocolate milk producing cow.  Yes!  Really!  Ok, maybe not.  It’s from lactose, which is an unfermentable sugar that’s found in milk.  Sorry to all those lactose hating folks out there.  This might not be the beer for you.  But for the rest of us, we’re loving Winter right now.  Even if our house was 56F this morning.  Ok, Sarah might not love that.  But Moo Hoo is a new chocolate milk stout from Terrapin Beer Company.  This is the first year they’ve done official seasonals, and Moo Hoo is the three month winter seasonal.

I say official seasonal beers, because they have long done the Monster Beer Tour.  Which now consists of five different beers that rotate when they are brewed here in Athens, GA.  As far as seasonal beers, Summer now brings six months of Sunray wheat.  Yes we have six months of Summer in the south.  Fall is Pumpkinfest season.  Winter, as you might have guessed is Moo Hoo time.

If you’ve been in the know, or been keeping up with WortandYeast on Twitter or WordPress, then you’re aware it’s been out for a couple of weeks now.  Whether by tap locally, in Atlanta, or by knowing someone that knows someone that steals from someone.  Ok, so the stealing part was a bad movie reference.

home made pecan cinnamon rolls

home made pecan cinnamon rolls

For those that aren’t as privileged as us southerners, Terrapin Beer Company‘s Moo Hoo chocolate milk stout is a 6% sweet stout.  It’s brewed with lactose sugar and Olive & Sinclair cocoa nibs and shells.  You can actually find Olive & Sinclair in Whole Foods stores in Atlanta and other areas.  Even Sarah got excited about this dark beer.  Until she finally tried it.  She stated it tasted smokey, which is actually the roasted barley she’s tasting.  After a few sips she started to liken to it and said she might be able to finish one.  I think her palette was pretty neutral at the moment.  One suggestion to pair with a sweet milk stout would be these homemade pecan cinnamon rolls with icing.  Damn they were delicious.  The recipe is in the October 2010 issue of Southern Living, a staple magazine in our house.

fermenter blow-off

fermenter blow-off

Another favorite that’s ready to be out soon is the 2010 release of Wake ‘n Bake, Terrapin’s Coffee Imperial Stout.  This stout is brewed with local roaster and coffee shop franchise, Jittery Joe’s Wake ‘n Bake blend.  Which is currently in my Cuisinart grinder/brewer coffee machine.  Damn tasty coffee!  The guy pouring samples at the brewery the other night mentioned something I hadn’t previously thought of.  When Wake ‘n Bake is fresh, Moo Hoo will still be on tap, ready to mix in a glass.  Hopefully, beer geeks every where will flock to the brewery for this made on the fly version of the Terrapin/Left Hand collaboration brew Depth Charge.  However this will be a more subtle version, as Depth Charge beans are roasted more than Wake ‘n Bake beans.

One last thing on Terrapin.  Tripadvisor recently listed their top 10 brewery tours.  Our local favorite comes in at #7.  Here’s the excerpt:

7. Hop-Filled Flavors: Terrapin Brew Company, Athens, Georgia

For travelers seeking to soak up some sweet sounds with their cold brews, Terrapin Brew Company offers live music and a festive atmosphere. The brewery, which introduced its first beer in 2002, runs educational tours and tastings Thursday through Saturday evenings, offering visitors a sneak-peek at the 40,000 square foot brewing facilities. Entry is $10 and includes a souvenir pint glass and tasting tickets.

Incase you’re worried about visiting during cold months, then don’t.  We were recently told they’re ordering six heaters to place inside for the cold months.  Visit Terrapin any Wednesday through Saturday from 5:30 – 7:30.

Only another hour on the Atlanta brisket.  Just enough time for another Moo Hoo on this Lazy Day.

Cheers!

 

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