What’s the Gravity, Kenneth?

IMG_2577That’s the Half Pound IPA up front. Currently reading 1.021 after six days in the fermenter. Tasty, tasty, tasty. I’ll give it a few more days and think about dry hopping it.

In back is the Dark Saison, which I just put in the fridge to cold crash. It finished at 1.005 thanks to the Wyeast 3711 French Saison yeast. This yeast could chew through a leather belt.

The Saison has a smoothness that belies its 7.2% ABV with a peppery spiciness and a nice Belgian yeast character. If you want to give it a try, look for it at the Chattanooga Craft Beer Festival, where The Barley Mob will have twelve different homebrewed beers on tap.

Is There a Cure for Brew Rig Envy?


IMG_2539So, I got to spend some quality time with this sexy beast yesterday. There’s no surer route to a serious case of Brew Rig Envy than getting your hands on a rig like this. Alas, no cure is known for BRE, save serious monetary outlay.

This is the Blichmann Top Tier brew stand and burners, fitted with 20 gallon kettles from Stout Tanks and Kettles, a single March pump, and Blichmann’s Therminator plate chiller. The Stout kettles feature Tri Clover fittings throughout, and the boil kettle has a tangential inlet for whirlpooling. It is a beautiful setup. I’ve been planning a single tier stand for my next rig, and seeing this setup in person has me on the verge of changing my mind.IMG_2532

My brew buddy whose garage it resides in has had the Top Tier for a while and just received the kettles and was kind enough to let me help begin setting up his brewery. If you are unfamiliar with the Top Tier, it is a modular system that allows Blichmann burners, shelves and other components to mount on a vertical mast. This modular nature means that you can configure the system to fit your needs. In this case, we configured it with a gravity fed hot liquor tank, and a single pump. The pump will circulate the wort in the direct fired mash tun as well as provide the whirlpool for the brew kettle, and circulate the wort through the plate chiller.

After considerable tinkering and test fitting, we established the height of the three burners and fitted all the ball valves and Tri Clover fittings on the kettles, pump, and chiller. A single gas rail will fuel the three propane burners, so a trip to Home Depot was in order to have the black gas pipe for the rail cut and threaded. I called it quits for the evening once the gas rail was assembled.

I got a report from brew buddy this morning that he had to take one of the burners back off in order to get the mounting brackets for the gas rail in place. That seems to be the nature of the Top Tier. It is a blank canvas, so the potential exists for a lot of mounting, removing, and re-mounting until an ultimate configuration is realized.

The next step will be installation of a sight glass for the hot liquor tank, measuring and cutting the silicon tubing, and a test run and leak check with water. Then we’re ready to brew, right? Not so fast there. Next step after the leak test will be calibrating the sight glass, measuring the dead space in the mash tun and boil kettle, and estimating the wort loss due to the liquid left in the tubing, pump, and chiller. Then we’ll take all those numbers and create an equipment profile for Beersmith. Then we’ll be ready to brew.

In the meantime, I’m having fever dreams about tri clover fittings and large stainless kettles. The condition is incurable. Where’s my checkbook?


Recipe-Dry Irish Stout


This Dry Irish Stout was one of a trio of beers I brewed for our St. Patrick’s Day party, which unfortunately had to be cancelled due to unforseen circumstances. On the bright side, the stout turned out nicely, so here’s the recipe for those who have asked for it.

This recipe sticks very close to both the BJCP style guidelines and Guinness’s example of the style, and while I haven’t done a back-to-back taste test with against the old Vitamin G, this recipe definitely evokes the classic Irish stout.

Dry Irish Stout

70% Pale Malt
20% Flaked Barley
10% Roasted Barley
40 IBU US Northern Brewer Hops
OG 1.040
FG 1.008

I did employ one extra step to get a bit of that Guinness “twang.” After cooling my wort, I reserved two quarts and left it out (covered with a napkin) at room temperature for three days until it soured slightly. Then I boiled it to kill anything that might cause an infection, let it cool to room temperature, and then added it to the fermenter with the rest of the wort.


Hops are Awake



IMG_2420I guess it’s safe to say the hops made it through the winter. This guy was literally one inch tall yesterday.

These are the mystery hops that I got from a lady at our community garden last year. She heard that I brewed and brought a gallon sized flower-pot overflowing with rhizomes. Unfortunately, I didn’t get them until maybe June of last year. I had quite a few climbers once I got them planted, but no cones to speak of. I’m hoping that they are settled in now and will produce some actual hops this year.

My best guess is that they are Hallertauer or one of the other noble hops since the lady I got them from indicated that she had them in her yard for years. Whatever they are, I’m hoping for a good harvest this year.