Been awhile

Shade Tree LogoWow,
It’s been so long since I’ve posted to this blog, I almost forgot it existed. No, I didn’t stop brewing. In fact, its very much the opposite. I did stop talking about brewing as much, maybe because the newness had worn off or whatever. I’ve stopped posting recipes also, mostly because I have a few core recipes that I came up with myself. I’m very proud of them, but not ready to release them to the public. Either way, this site still gets a decent amount of traffic so I wanted to post an update on what is going on in my brewing adventure.

About 1.5 years ago, a friend of mine at work and me began discussing opening a small brewery in the Triangle area. Over that time, we’ve gotten more serious and are currently hard at work at making that dream a reality. The short term goal is not to quit our jobs or get rich, but rather to take the hobby to the next level in a big way. We are just about done building out a 1.5 BBL (46 gallon) brewery and are also trying to nail down a location. We’re searching for a bar/restaurant/whatever where we can take over a tiny section of unused space and make our own. Our name is Shade Tree Brewing Company. Our website is pretty basic, with most of the action taking place on our Facebook page at the moment. If you still follow this blog, friend our brewery on Facebook! You can follow the action there.


I don’t know what happened but I just realized that somehow all my links disappeared at some point. There back now and I updated my blogroll with all the beer blogs that I follow. Check them out, its good stuff.

LoneRider Brew It Forward

LoneRider medals cropped

On August 1st, I went to the LoneRider Brew It Forward competition that they held at their brewery. It was a really fun day where they provided free beer and lunch for the participants and guests. Several of my friends showed up and we had fun talking about the equipment and trying the beer. Of course, the Shotgun Betty was terrific as always but I also got to try a Brown Ale and an ESB that are upcoming. They were both very tasty as well and I look forward to seeing them on tap soon. Thanks to everyone at LoneRider for the fun competition and good food/beer.

Now, on to the important stuff. I have officially been validated as a pretty decent brewer! The contest was set up with 4 flights of beers judged by teams of two people each. For each flight, there was a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place awarded. Of the 12 that got an award, there was a Best In Show round with the winner of that getting to brew commercially at LoneRider. In the end, two of my beers, my ama/coe ipa (called Snake Bite IPA for their Western theme) and my American Stout (called Saloon Stout) won First Place in each of their respective flights. I was pretty stoked about this already but then they announced that my Saloon Stout had also won Third in the Best In Show round. The medals they gave are really nice, custom medals and my Best In Show one says it on the back. I need to get a good place to display them above the keezer and I also need to get both of these beers back on tap.

Barley wine update

Well, just a quick update on the barley wine. I officially kegged it today. I probaby went through half a tank of CO2 but I’m pretty sure I got a near oxygen free transfer. It’s carbing up as we speak in my fermentation fridge. Once that’s done, I will bottle it (also oxygen free) and let it age. I’m sure I’ll probably sneak a taste or two as well. It smells fantastic.

In other news, I haven’t been brewing too much but I have done another Rye IPA, this time with 3 lbs of Malted Rye, 1 lb of Flaked Rye, and its hopped throughout with Nugget, including First Wort Hopping and dry hopping. Hope its tasty!

I’ve also been entering a couple competitions lately. I submitted my Orange Kolsch and my Imperial Stout to the Samuel Adams Longshot competition and I’ve entered those two, plus my Summer Wheat and ama/coe IPA (named because of the hops used) into the Lonerider competition, a local brewery here in Raleigh. I’m not really expecting to win either but I am looking for some feedback. I suppose there’s a chance on the Lonerider one because they cap it at 200 entries and four of those will be mine! 🙂

I also recently aquired a MIG welder and am busy learning how to weld. I hope to be building myself a three tier (as well as many other things) in the near future with it once I get some skillz.

Anyway, how are things in your brewing world?

Just an update

Hey, it’s been awhile since I last blogged but that’s because I haven’t really done anything for awhile after finishing the epic Barleywine brewday. Mostly because of being on vacation for two weekends. The Barleywine is doing well. I transferred to secondary about a week ago after a month of primary, two weeks of which was at 76°. The transfer went well. For some reason, I was nervous about it like it was my first time or something. All my equipment was extra sanitized, I filled the secondary with CO2 for awhile before transferring and then I topped it off with CO2. I’m hoping all this extra work will pay off with a few extra years of drinkability on the far end of this. I definitely want this beer to have a five year anniversary. Checked the gravity again after about two weeks since the last time and its still at 1.022. I’m thinking this is the FG, which is pretty good for a Barleywine of this strength (11.5% ABV). I’m right at the top end of the scale for the style.

In other news, I brewed round two of my award winning Crystal 40 this past Saturday. This beer is easy to make, tastes delicious, and the ingredients are cheap. I’m really looking forward to it being on tap for more than a week this time. I ended up keeping the recipe the same, figuring that I didn’t get enough time to really evaluate it the last time I made it before it was all gone. This time around, it should last longer and I also plan on brewing it again in 6 weeks or so in order to keep a steady supply. I guess that’s it about for now.

Happy Brewing!

Hop Scheduling

Lately, I’ve been thinking alot about the effect of the timing on hop additions. We all know that the standard bittering addition is at 60 minutes. This maximizes the isomeration of the alpha acids to extract the most bittering potential of the hop. This makes perfect sense to me. The next addition is the flavor addition. These are usually added anywhere from 30 minutes to around 10 minutes. The first question is, when formulating a recipe, how do I determine whether I want 30, 10, or somewhere in between? For me the answer is usually half at 30, half at 10. Am I missing the 20 minute sweet spot of hop flavor extraction? And when do flavor additions morph into aroma additions? 10, 5, 0?

Because of my total lack of knowledge in the finer points of hopping (despite reading several entire articles/magazines/chapters in books devoted to specifically this subject), I usually find my homemade recipes just going something along the lines of a 20/10/0 schedule. The idea is that I maximize and balance flavor and aroma sorta at the same time. This last 30 minutes of hopping is something I fully intend to explore with my Crystal 40. It’s currently at 30/10/0 with an increasing amount of hops as it goes along. My thinking is it takes more hops to impart aroma than it does flavor which, of course, is a theory I totally pulled out of nowhere. It seems that Dogfish Head has the right idea. Rather than trying to analyze what times best contribute to what aspects of the hops, they just start throwing ’em in, a little at a time, throughout the whole boil. They definitely took the RDWHAHB approach and I can attest that I have created a few beers using this method and they were excellent.

The one main gripe I have about this method is all the hops thrown in between 59.5 minutes and about 30 minutes. If everything I’ve read is correct (which I hope it is or why else am I reading it), flavor and aroma are totally destroyed after more than 30 minutes of boiling. So, the only thing we’re getting out of this is bittering, except at a much lower utilization than the ones thrown in at 60. They could extract the same bittering potential by adding all their hops at 60 with a lower overall usage.

After all this rambling, I’m finally getting around to my actual point. For my next round of Crystal 40, I think I am going to modify my hop schedule in the last 30 minutes. I’ll stick with the 0.5 ounce of Chinook at 60, but for the remaining hops (2 oz Cascade), I’m just going to continuous hop it from 30-0. I’m hoping it will provide a more well-rounded interpretation of the hop.

Stay tuned for part 2 when I intend to ramble on about First Wort Hopping and Dry-hopping.

Barleywine Update

I know I don’t normally post updates for every little thing but I’m so excited about this one that I had to. Just wanted to post because I took a gravity reading today, less than two weeks after brewing, and it’s currently sitting at 1.022. Before I brewed this, I had decided I was shooting for 1.018 but would be happy with anything under 1.025. Needless to say, I’m happy. I’m going to warm it up to about 75° for another week or two and hope to eek out another couple points. It could definitely drop below 1.020 before its said and done. Once I’m sure it’s done, I will do an oxygen free transfer to secondary and let it sit for a month or so. How does it taste? Pretty much like alcohol, although there is some definite barleywine flavors showing through. It has a slight hoppiness that will mellow over time and really nice crimson color. The next six months of waiting will be really tough!