Monthly Archives: February 2013

Extra Special Bitter

Recipe by: Taft Canyon Brewers

1 lbs Flaked Maize
0.5 lbs Crystal Malt 60L

3.3 lbs Pale Malt Extract (60 minutes)
3.3 lbs Pale Malt Extract (5 minutes)

.6 oz UK Challenger Pellets (60 minutes)
1 oz Goldings (Kent) Pellets (30 minutes)
1 oz Goldings (Kent)Pellets (15 Minutes)

 Whitbread Ale (Wyeast #1099)

1/2 tsp Irish Moss (10 Minutes)

Fermentation Temperature: 68 F

Mash Steps:

60 minutes at 152 degrees

Notes: This recipe was slightly modified from the ESB recipe found in How to Brew. Thinking about dry-hopping this after 10 days in the primary depending  on how it tastes.

Brew History:

February 17, 2013

Original Gravity: 1.042
Final Gravity: 1.012
Final ABV: 3.9%


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Beer, Beards, and Books. A serendipitous convergence.

Craft Beerds

Craft Beerds: A well-groomed collection of craft beer labels featuring beards, sideburns and moustaches

My worlds collided this week when I received an unexpected package in the mail. It was sent by an old friend and book publishing colleague whom I don’t see often enough, but Facebook allows us to keep tabs on each other and she must have been paying attention to my various dalliances and indulgent distractions (making beer and growing facial hair, among others). The package I received contained a beautifully produced, hardcover book that I’d seen mentioned in my Instagram and Twitter feeds, but had yet to lay my hands on.

The book is entitled Craft Beerds: A well-groomed collection of craft beer labels featuring beards, sideburns and moustaches. The author is Fred Abercrombie, a self-described craft beer aficionado and lover of all things facial hair. While the book concept is hilarious and witty and the production values of the physical book are quite nice, the book publisher in me could not help wondering what courageous soul would take a risk publishing such an impulsive, small-market product.  Also, it’s 268 pages of full color for only $19.95 MSRP – a crazy value for this type of book. You can see a couple sample pages on the book’s website.

Sample image from  the book Craft Beerds.

So I started digging a little and things got interesting.

The book was funded through kickstarter. Over 260 individuals ponied up their hard-earned cash to see this book made – contributing more than $10,000 combined.  According to the introduction in the book, that covered approximately 50% of the book’s manufacturing costs. Not bad.

It was self-published. This is an important fact in many ways. First of all – it’s not self-published in the way that most books are self-published (through one of the predatory self-publishing units of Amazon or their ilk). It’s published by the author’s design agency in California (Abercrombie + Alchemy). They apparently designed the book themselves and have some street cred in the craft beer community having done work for Lagunitas Brewing.  Second, it’s a book. That’s right – ink on paper.  With a binding. This concept could have easily been a just a website at a fraction of the cost, gone viral, yada, yada, yada. But it’s a physical book. The book thing is a key point – because it’s not only a smack in the face to all those “eBooks are the only future” idiots out there, it’s also an indication that people want to invest in the arts. Can you imagine if the author had tried to get this funding for a website? I suspect nobody would have contributed.

It focuses on craft beer. For those of you unaware (your loss), there’s a craft beer revolution going on in the United States (and it’s starting in the UK, too.) Craft beer sales grow while the big guys (InBev and SABMiller) lose market share and see declines in revenue.  10 years ago, a book of this magnitude would have been impossible. There simply were not enough craft brewers around to make a book of well-designed labels, much less with the additional requirement of facial hair. I love this grass-roots, locally-focused movement and we should all do whatever we can to support it. We’re also seeing what I hope is the beginning of a renaissance of independent bookstores (knock on wood) while the big box booksellers struggle.

So, to summarize all this rambling into a key takeaway, I think it’s this: People want to be part of something artistic and authentic with tangibility and a sense of permanence. Books provide the opportunity to create all of these things. And Mr. Abercrombie, who clearly had a mission and a drive to get this done was able to turn his vision  into a reality.

I took the book to Equinox Brewing today, my favorite local craft brewery here in Fort Collins and donated it to their bar library. The book sparked conversation on everything from the yeast that the Rogue Brewery guys cultivated from their brewmaster’s beard to Northwest brewing legend Glen Falconer to the local mustache wax company that recently opened up in town. And, of course, this conversation happened over a pint (or two) of local craft beer. Try that with an eBook.




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Twenty Gallons in Two Acts

Act I Scene I – Steve’s Kitchen with a clean keg and 5 gallons of TCB Imperial IPA w/ Midnight Wheat. Enter Steve and Keith, empty glasses at the ready to taste the soon to be carbonated beer. Although flat, this beer has some hop muscle behind it. A few days under CO2, and this will be a tasty beverage. Ten minute to rack the IPA into the keg, close it up, and we were done.  Damn, kegging is easy. Why did we ever bottle?

Act I Scene II – Steve’s Garage. Steve and Keith are now joined by Wes, David, and Ryan. I have been hearing a lot about SMaSH brewing (Single Malt and Single Hop) and wanted to give it a shot. This is a great way to really figure out how your hops and grains taste and interact. While a red doesn’t lend itself to a true SMaSH, I wanted to continue the journey of Ulysses.  Subtract a few specialty grains and you’re left with pale malt and roasted barley for color.  Focus in on one hop variety and we now have a “smashy” recipe.  This should be a true test of how the pale malt, barley, and hops combine to make a beer…oh the anticipation…But why let the adventure stop with the grain and hop bill? Why not give a yeast starter a try? And what about aerating the beer after pitching (I saw Jonathan do this to a few brew sessions ago…how freakin’ cool was that?).  For the yeast starter, I mixed up 900ml of water and DME and Yeast Nutrient in a flask and heated in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.  After the “wort” that was created cooled, I pitched the Irish Red yeast, covered the top of the flask with foil, and hoped it might actually work. Without a stirplate, I had to swirl by hand as often as possible (every few hours during the day, and once or twice in my dreams).  Lots of foaming the first 12 hours…I am sure I lost a number of yeast cells from overflow (apparently determined yeast is immune to the sealing power of Reynolds…). Sunday night (about 48 hours after I mixed up the starter), I pitched it and then broke out the old aquarium air pump and brand new stainless steel airstone.  Let the aeration begin…

Act II Scene I – Back to Steve’s Kitchen – Enter Wes, Steve, and Keith. Clean bottles and Starsan at the ready, it’s time to bottle Wes’ Belgian Dubbel.  For those of you who don’t know the backstory here, we had a popped bung with this beer.  Belgium yeast ferments fairly aggressively and overwhelmed the 6 gallon fermentor’s airlock…Twice…And of course, both Steve and I were out of town when this happened, leaving Gwen to deal with this (love ya’ Gwen!!!).  After numerous SMS and phone calls, Michael was able to save the beer by scrounging up a blow-off set up from our brewing equipment.  At bottling, it has a nice malty flavor and is well balanced. A few weeks in the bottles should do it just right. All in all, this Dubbel should turn out great.

Act II Scene II – Steve’s Kitchen – Wes, Steve, and Keith, each beerless, having drunk much of the beer in Steve’s fridge. More clean bottles (remind me again why we bottle?). On to the Saison Also Rises.  As an English major, I thought this was a pretty clever name…Hemingway and all…plus Saison is not the easiest to pun.  Some of you might agree. But just as you have to consider all the possible ways a name will be shortened when you name a child, so it is with beer. Much to my chagrin, Steve astutely pointed out this was “SAR”s beer!!!
“Hey man, grab me another bottle of SARS from the fridge”…Bad.

Well, there you have it – Twenty gallons of beer in two acts.  And that’s not including what was consumed. One of my favorite things about homebrew: it always tastes better the more you drink.

Be good and brew adventurous.


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Ulysses Irish Red (Abridged)


Ulysses in the primary for a few days…Much lighter than the last batch.

Recipe by: Taft Canyon Brewers

Specialty Grains:
10.6 lbs Maris Otter Pale Malt
0.4 lbs Roasted Barley

0.5 oz Challenger – 8.2% AA – Pellets (60 minutes)
0.75 Challenger – 8.2% AA – Pellets (30 minutes)

0.25 tsp Irish Moss (10 minutes)

Irish Ale (White Labs #WLP004) w/ 1 liter starter

Fermentation Temperature: 72 F

Original Gravity: 1.054
Potential ABV: 5.80%
Final Gravity: 1.015
Final ABV: 5.40%
Bitterness: 26 IBU

Mash Steps:
60 minutes at 150 degrees (16 quarts)
Mashout at 212 degrees (7 quarts)
Batch Sparge at 170 degrees (13 quarts of wort)

Notes: Grain volume adjusted for Brew House Efficiency of 70%
Aerated for 1 hour after pitching yeast

Brew History:
Brewed February 10, 2013
Racked: February 10, 2013
Bottled: March 2, 2013

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Filed under Beer Recipes, Making Beer, Saison