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Eugene Craft Beer Roundup: Civil War Tailgate Dinner, Mystery Wort Beer Judging, Coffee Ale Fest, Homebrew Meetup

Nov. 21, 2013, Eugene Craft Beer Roundup

Civil War Tailgate Dinner

At The Bier Stein, Nov. 26

A limited number of first-come-first-serve tickets have been made available ($40) for the next Bier Stein beer dinner, Tues. Nov. 26, 6-8:30 p.m. The theme? Civil War! Beers from Hop Valley (Eugene/Springfield) and Flat Tail (Corvallis) come together in the brawl of the ages… the Civil War Tailgate Dinner. (Tickets also include one pre-dinner beer from the current Bier Stein taplist.)

Courses

  • 1st Quarter: Stuffed Mushrooms with Parmesan, Cream Cheese, Garlic, Walnuts
  • 2nd Quarter: Salmon Cakes with Lemon Butter Cream and Asparagus
  • 3rd Quarter: Pork Ribs with House BBQ Sauce, Pork-and-Beans
  • 4th Quarter: Flank Steak Sliders on Challah Rolls with Fontina, Arugula, and Garlic-Roasted Tomatoes, Cracked Pepper and Lemon Aioli, Pepper and Red Cabbage Slaw
  • Overtime: White Chocolate and Dark Chocolate Brownie Topped with Bacon Ice Cream

All beer pairings will be blind, and will be revealed by the brewers only after each course is complete.

Purchase and pick up tickets at The Bier Stein, 1591 Willamette St., Eugene.

Mystery Wort BrewHaHa People’s Choice Beer Judging

Claim 52 Brewing recently turned 1 year old! They also just added this snazzy new sign to their brewery, located at 1030 Tyinn St., Eugene. Photo: Claim 52 Brewing

Claim 52 Brewing recently turned 1 year old! They also just added this snazzy new sign to their brewery, located at 1030 Tyinn St., Eugene. Photo: Claim 52 Brewing

Sat., Nov. 23, 12-4 p.m.

As you may recall, back in September the folks at Claim 52 Brewing had 8 homebrewers of the Cascade Brewers Society brew beers with a mystery wort of unknown ingredients. The long-awaited tasting for those Claim 52 Mystery Wort BrewHaHa beers is now at hand.

The brewers took the unknown wort and added, well, who knows what? There were various combinations of hops, spices, fruits, sugars, yeast… you name it, they made a beer from it. On Saturday, Nov. 23, 12-4 p.m., there will be a People’s Choice tasting and judging at Claim 52 Brewing in Eugene.

Tastes are free, but to vote you must purchase tickets: $4 for 4 tickets. All funds raised will go to EWEB’s Customer Care program.

More info at the Claim 52 Brewing Facebook page and the Cascade Brewers Society.

Coffee Ale Fest

Coffee Ale Fest at 16 Tons Eugene, Nov. 22

16 Tons Cafe, Eugene, Nov. 22

Perfect timing. This week’s temperatures are scheduled to nip into the 20s in Eugene, so what better way to warm up than with coffee and beer?

At the 16 Tons Cafe (29th & Willamette), Mike and his crew are preparing cold brew coffees to blend with regular non-coffee beers at the moment before serving. Head down to try interesting combinations such as the Occidental Alt Bier with Cold Brewed El Salvador El Manzano (single-origin from Water Avenue Coffee) and the Planktown Brown Ale with Brazil Granja Sao Francisco (microlot single-origin from Water Avenue Coffee).

Over 20 coffee-infused ales will be on offer at the Coffee Ale Fest, Fri., Nov. 22, 5-10 p.m.

Monthly Homebrew Meetup

Cascade Brewers Society, Eugene, Oregon

Cascade Brewers Society Meeting Nov. 25

The Eugene-area club for homebrewers, the Cascade Brewers Society holds their monthly meeting on the last Monday of the month. The October meeting is Mon., Nov. 25, 7 p.m., in the downstairs room at the Rogue Ales Public House, 844 Olive St., Eugene.

The meeting is open to all area homebrewers. There will be a discussion about an aspect of homebrewing, and homebrewers are welcome to bring homebrew to share.

More info at www.cascade-brewers.com »

Photo: Mike Chaput




The Solvent in the Glass: 5 Mistakes of a Homebrew Disaster

Homebrew Drain Cleaner

Homebrew Drain Cleaner. The weizenbock homebrew was a failure. It was so solventy, it wasn’t even worth dumping on the compost heap. The should’ve-been-beer just got dumped in the sink. On the plus side, at least the drains got cleared.

Weizenbock, I Hardly Knew You

In 2007, I took up homebrewing. In 2013, after dozens of successful (or at least drinkable) homebrews, I threw out my first batch. But as I watched 5 gallons of should-have-been beer disappear down the kitchen drain, tears on my face from failure and solventy fumes, I learned my lesson.

Five lessons, in fact.

So today, here is the cautionary tale of a homebrew gone wrong, along with the lessons learned so this never, ever, bloody EVER happens to me again—and hopefully never happens to you.

How It All Went Wrong

I confess. It was my own damn fault. And I knew it.

That brew day in May, I had high hopes. This batch of weizenbock homebrew should have been magnificent. The brew day went well. The yeast took a couple of days to kick into gear, but once they did, strong fermentation lasted for weeks.

But.

May had given way to June, and with June came things like summer, trips, and being outside. The weizenbock was now ready to be bottled… but maybe that could happen tomorrow.

Funnily enough, tomorrow never came. The next day did, and so did the day after that, but never did the day dawn on that just-out-of-reach, never-quite-fit-the-schedule tomorrow.

A warm June gave way to a hot July and a hotter August, and still the weizenbock sat in the kitchen. By the time the August was tipping past its midpoint, after many days of temperatures in the 90s, I finally got around to bottling. After spending an hour or two sanitizing bottling equipment and dozens of bottles, I gently moved the big glass carboy of beer from the kitchen floor to the kitchen counter.

I pulled off the airlock, inserted the special tube that draws out a sample of beer, and poured a wee tasting glass of weizenbock.

Or, rather, paint thinner.

Would-be Weizenbock.

Would-be Weizenbock.

One sniff alerted me that all was not right in brewland. The beer never even got properly tasted; it stung my lips, reeked of a neglected garage and got spit into the sink.

The weizenbock was ruined. Irrevocably, not even-worth-pouring-on-the-compost ruined.

On the plus side, at least pouring it down the kitchen sink would keep the drain clear.

It was a sad day in the St. Clair kitchen. A lost beer, the end result of summer heat and steady procrastination. But as I reflected on the loss, I learned. I realized I had made 5 crucial mistakes, and I also thought of ways to make sure they wouldn’t happen again.

Mistake #1: Failing to think ahead

A batch of homebrew is a process that happens far beyond brew day. When getting ready to brew, think ahead to when the beer will be ready to bottle or keg. Are you going to be out of town for a while? Is something coming up that’s going to prevent your homebrew from bubbling to the top of the to-do list? Adjust brew day accordingly.

We had all these things going against us, especially when it came to trips out of town. If I’d thought ahead more comprehensively, I either wouldn’t have brewed the weizenbock until fall, or I would have done a better job of bottling sooner.

Lesson Learned: Think beyond brew day and adjust schedule accordingly.

Mistake #2: Not setting a date for bottling day

Brewing can be done on a strict schedule, or it can be done pretty laissez-faire. I trend toward the it’s-ready-when-it’s-bloody-ready approach, which usually works fine.

However, there’s a reason I don’t brew and bottle in the summer: the heat isn’t good for fermenting beer. During May the weather was lovely. However, I should have balanced making sure fermentation ran its full course, with making sure I also marked a must-bottle-by date.

Lesson Learned: Once you know when your homebrew is ready to be bottled or kegged, set a date, put it in your calendar, and damn well stick to it. Otherwise, it can far too easily keep getting put off, and put off, and put off—and then solvent.

Mistake #3: Trying to brew and bottle two batches at once.

I had grand plans:

  1. Brew a kolsch for summer enjoyment/
  2. Brew a weizenbock both to enjoy an occasional bigger beer over the summer, plus this stronger wheat beer would make a fine fall sipper.

The kolsch went fine (and has been damn tasty) and was bottled promptly. But it’s as if I’d lost all my bottling fizz, and I kept letting our summer activities prevent me from making time to bottle the weizenbock. (Well, summer activities, plus being a parent and running my own business.)

If I had brewed one batch at a time, I don’t think this would have been a problem.

Lesson Learned: Brew and bottle one batch at a time.

Mistake #4: Letting bottling day extend into summer

I like summer to be a brewing break, so I work really hard to plan my brews so I’m not brewing or bottling during the summer months. Summer is a good time for other activities, such as enjoying being outside without three layers of clothing.

Plus, summer’s higher temperatures mean it’s a good time to not worry about brewing under warmer conditions that make spoilage more likely.

Granted, if you have temperature control equipment for your brewing this is less of a concern, but I find it far simpler to just not brew during summer. (And no, we don’t have air conditioning in our home; living in Western Oregon, it’s rare that there’s a day where it’s really needed or desired.)

Without temperature controls, you are subject to the seasons. In our situation, higher summer temperatures kicked the yeast into a high gear, creating solvent-like higher alcohols that spoiled the weizenbock for human consumption.

Lesson Learned: Any homebrew in primary fermentation must be bottled before hotter ambient temperatures kick in.

Mistake #5: Prepping bottling gear and washing bottles before testing beer

You know what really sucked? It wasn’t just that the weizenbock had gone bad. It was that I had gathered, washed and sanitized all the bottling gear, prepared my priming sugar, AND had washed and sanitized about 3 dozen 22-oz. bottles.

Of course, that’s standard procedure. The problem is that I did all this BEFORE smelling and taste-testing the homebrew. Had I checked the batch first, I could have saved myself a lot of trouble.

The only thing I can say in my defense? In all our years of brewing, we’d never had a problem with a batch.

Lesson Learned: Smell and taste beer before preparing bottling gear.

Brewing Closure

After the weizenbock homebrew failure, I was definitely bummed. Dumping a batch wasn’t just homebrew wasted, it was money down the drain. Our homebrew stores were running low, and August was too warm to brew. While tidying the garage one morning, one of my three carboys broke. September was probably fine for brewing, but I was in the midst of writing a new novella and had other projects going.

Come the end of October, though, I was ready. There was time. There was the right weather. And I had to get back on my brewing horse. So as I type this, a dry stout Guinness clone is going fermentation gangbusters in the carboy.

The weizenbock’s bottling day may have become drain clearing day, but into every homebrewer’s life a bad batch may fall. After years of brewing, I had mine.

But that’s just one batch. And that one failed batch taught me lots about how I can keep improving my brewing, so (hopefully) it doesn’t happen again.

Photos: http://flic.kr/p/h63wBo and http://flic.kr/p/h62P56




Eugene Craft Beer Roundup: Learn to Homebrew Day, Agrarian Harvest Halloween, Heater Allen Brewing Pause

Oct. 30, 2013, Eugene Craft Beer Roundup

Learn to Homebrew Day at Oakshire Public House, Nov. 2

Learn to Homebrew Day is an annual event established by the American Homebrewers Assocation to encourage homebrewing. Photo © 2010 Cindy Jones.

Learn to Homebrew Day is an annual event established by the American Homebrewers Assocation to encourage homebrewing. Photo © 2010 Cindy Jones.

Have you ever wanted to learn to homebrew? On Sat., Nov. 2, head to the Oakshire Public House for National Learn to Homebrew Day!

Homebrewers from the Cascade Brewers Society will demonstrate homebrewing, different recipes and equipment from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Oakshire Public House is at 207 Madison, Eugene.

Post to social media with hashtag #LTHD2013.

Learn to Homebrew Day is a national event established by the American Homebrewers Association in 1999 to encourage people to homebrew.

Agrarian Harvest Halloween

Harvest Halloween Party at Agrarian Ales

Harvest Halloween Party at Agrarian Ales

Head to Agrarian Ales (near Coburg) on Oct. 31, 5-10 p.m., for the Harvest Halloween Party 2013.

This 21+ event features Agrarian beers, an adult pinata, costume contest, pumpkin keg and a special themed menu. The Symbiotic Quintet plays, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Limited space available.

RSVP and Shuttle Requests: Kelly@agales.com

Heater Allen Brewing Pause

Heater Allen

For now. But don’t worry—just stock up.

In an email to customers, Rick Allen reports that Heater Allen is installing a new brewing system in early November. While the brewery migrates from their old 6 barrel system to the new system, brewing is done, and will resume once all the new equipment is installed and checked:

“We don’t have much to report from a brewing standpoint, because we’re not! We brewed our last batch of beer on our old system a week ago, and in early November we will be installing a new brew system. This 15 BBL system is custom designed for the kind of beers that we produce, and will allow us to make more and better beer. We hope to be up and brewing again within a couple of weeks, although it may take us a little while to fine-tune our beers on the new system.”

Allen does note that while they have tried to brew sufficient Heater Allen supplies to last during this brief stop, there is a possibility Heater Allen beers won’t be available around late December/early January. “But over the long term,” Allen says, the expansion “should allow us to do a better job keeping beer in stock, increase the number of tap handles in the Portland area, and allow us to extend our reach at into Northern California and Washington.”

Heater Allen currently has a strong supply of Pils. Other beers such as Coastal, Dunkel, and Sandy Paws are expected to be back in stock by the middle of November. Bottle supplies are limited, kegs of Sticke Alt and Kolsch are available.

Learn more at the Heater Allen Brewer’s Blog »




7 Reasons to Bottle Your Next Batch of Homebrew

In Defense of Bottling: New Homebrew Article

Read the article now. Photo credit: Homebrewing.com

Photo: Homebrewing.com

In addition to my usual craft beer writing, I also like to write about homebrewing (and am an avid homebrewer). Here is a recent article on bottling homebrew:

Mention bottling to any given group of homebrewers, and you may hear a lot of “I hate bottling” grumbling. And fair enough. Bottling’s not for every brewer—just as kegging isn’t, either. Kegging is a great way to package your beer and keep it ready to serve, but the pros of bottling homebrew just may have you dusting off your hand capper […]

Go to the article: In Defense of Bottling – HomeBrewing.com »




Eugene Craft Beer Roundup: New Oakshire Cans, Licks & Drinks, Bier Stein, Homebrew Club

Oct. 23, 2013, Eugene Craft Beer Roundup

Oakshire Now Canning More Beers, Celebrate Oct. 23 & 24

Oakshire Amber and Overcast Espresso Stout will now come in 12 oz. cans too, just like the Eugene brewery's signature Watershed IPA. Photo: Oakshire Brewing.

Oakshire Amber and Overcast Espresso Stout will now come in 12 oz. cans too, just like the Eugene brewery’s signature Watershed IPA. Photo: Oakshire Brewing.

So a while back, Oakshire began canning their beers. First up was their flagship Watershed IPA. Now Oakshire (finally) is canning their Original Amber Ale and Overcast Espresso Stout too. Distribution of the 12-oz./6-pack cans began on Oct. 21, and you’ll be seeing them where you beer up throughout the next few days and weeks.

From improved beer quality to recyclability, expanding canning to all flagship beers suits Oakshire brewmaster Matt Van Wyk just fine. (He’s also the barrelmastermind behind Oakshire’s recent GABF gold medal win.) “The bottom line is that cans are better for the quality of beer, and that’s what I care about,” Matt says. Canning “will allow us to have a great experience with fresh beer.”

In addition to single-serving cans, Oakshire Amber, Stout and IPA continue to be available on draught and in 22 oz. bottles throughout the Northwest.

Celebrate the release of Amber and Overcast in cans! There are 2 canning release parties in Eugene:

  • The Bier Stein, Wed. Oct. 23, 6 p.m.
  • The Barn Light, Thurs. Oct. 24, 5 p.m.

More info at oakbrew.com »

Late Night Drinks & Licks at Red Wagon After Dark

Yup. Ice Cream Speakeasy. Photo: Red Wagon Creamery.

So, first there was the Red Wagon ice cream cart. Then there was the co-location in Eugene with Party Downtown/The Party Cart.

And now, there’s “late night drinks and late night licks” from Eugene’s favorite artisan ice cream folks:

Dubbed “Red Wagon After Dark,” the new late-night offerings at the ice cream speakeasy include dessert cocktails, beer floats and “milkshakes with a kick.” You know, like this:

Dessert cocktails feature Red Wagon ice cream and premium liquors, and beer floats all feature local craft beers.

Red Wagon After Dark happens Thursday through Saturday, 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., at Red Wagon Creamery’s 55. W. Broadway location in downtown Eugene.

More info at the Red Wagon Creamery Facebook page »

New Bier Stein Newsletter

The Bier Stein is at 15th & Willamette, Eugene. Photo: The Bier Stein.

The Bier Stein is at 15th & Willamette, Eugene. Photo: The Bier Stein.

Eugene’s The Bier Stein has not only a snazzy new website, but also a new free email newsletter for beer lovers.

To stay in the know about beers, events and other news and happenings with the popular Eugene beer hall, sign up for the email list here »

Cascade Brewers Society Meeting

Cascade Brewers Society, Eugene, Oregon

The Eugene-area club for homebrewers, the Cascade Brewers Society holds their monthly meeting on the last Monday of the month. The October meeting is Mon., Oct. 28, 7 p.m., in the downstairs room at the Rogue Ales Public House, 844 Olive St., Eugene.

The meeting is open to all area homebrewers. There will be a discussion about an aspect of homebrewing, and homebrewers are welcome to bring homebrew to share.

More info at www.cascade-brewers.com »




The Mishmash: Rookie Mistakes, Beer & Next Stories

After a week of basking in the Idaho sun, hanging with with my son and chilling with family, there’s been a lot on my mind as I get back in the swing of things. Sometimes you get a million notes and ideas swimming about that could be blog posts. Then you realize they should just be mishmashed into one.

So that’s what this is. Part update, part outlook, part dreaming out loud. A big mishmash of screwups, beer, scribbling and upcoming stories. So let’s start with screwups.

Rookie Mistakes: Smashwords

The Martini of Destiny has been on the market for a couple of weeks now (here’s last week’s update about that). It’s been a fun ride, with sales coming in (thank you in advance for buying a copy!), positive/constructive feedback coming in and, of course, rookie mistakes.

All told, I’m pretty happy with how smoothly my newb self was able pull off getting a book to market. But for a while a bad Smashwords link has been floating about, and I only just got it sorted out. Bah. Rookie mistakes, folks: make sure you have the right link!

Here’s the right link for getting The Martini of Destiny at Smashwords

Doing this launch was all about a learning process though, and I’m definitely learning. Another thing that maybe I could’ve done: book blog tours. But I’m not too worried about that; I think I’ll be saving that for a big push for my main novel.

Craft Beer & Homebrew

Ah, happy summer: when I go from brewing beer to enjoying it. Last night after getting our son to bed, my wife and I hung a pegboard for her sewing area in our new family room. Pegboard hung, it was time to try the new kolsch I had bottled just before we left for Idaho. It’s off to a good start: refreshing, decent malt flavor, low hop profile. An excellent summer sipper.

Summer is when I take a break from homebrewing. Hotter temperatures don’t inspire me to stand over a boiling pot, plus it’s harder to keep a decent fermentation temperature in my laissez-faire setup. Overall, it’s just good to take a break.

I still have a weizenbock to bottle, but from there, brewing will resume come, say, September.

Meantime, there’s also lots happening with Eugene craft beer scene. I’ll be working on some assignments for later this summer that’ll be fun to share with you. We have so much happening with Eugene’s beer right now! Lots of good pints to come.

Next Stories

As you know, over these last few months I’ve been revamping my website, refocusing my blog, and hauling arse to get more stories to you. I’ve been doing more on social media, and I’m also working on getting together email content that will blow you away (subscribe to that list here).

But there’s something I’ve been missing: good, inspiring blog writing prompts.

To put that another way, I’ve missed having other focus points that help me write stuff you care about. As an avowed self-centered bastard, it’s easy for me to write stuff I care about, but I feel it’s a challenge to write more consistently about what you care about.

So that’s my next big step-up: more blog and email content that has you drooling. That’s habit-forming. That you can’t wait to see.

A great example was 2012’s 30-Day Indie Travel Challenge, brought on by the awesome folks at BootsnAll. These short essays were some of the most writing fun I’ve ever had, and I can’t say enough how much I loved talking with readers about my scribblings and our shared love of travel.

Behind the scenes, I’m working on some ways to build this back in more regularly. I’ve missed it, you like it, and I’m bringing it back. As always, ideas welcome, please let me know in the comments.

While revamping my site, I rediscovered something I’d stopped doing ages ago, and now realize how much I had missed: oneword. The simple premise has always appealed to me: write for 60 seconds based on a single word. Writing these wee prompts was always fun for me, and one of the most popular bits of content on here, and I want to get back into doing these.

What do you think?

Next Stories

Last but definitely not least: what’s next now that The Martini of Destiny is out? Here’s what’s happening:

  • The Novel. As you may see from Facebook, Twitter and such, I’m cranking through rewrites on the second act of my 3-act first novel. That’s a writerly convoluted way to say I’m over halfway through revision. Once I’m through Act 2, I think I’ll have a better idea of when the book will be coming out, and I’ll keep updating you. You can learn more about the book here.
  • The Next Story (or is that “Stories”?). The novel won’t be the next Rucksack Universe story though. I have one, maybe two more novellas I want to get to you before the novel comes out. Once I’m done revising Act 2 of the novel, I’m taking a quick novel breather to look into the outlines and stories for these projects, and start getting them prepared. Like The Martini of Destiny, these titles will only be available as e-books. However, I do plan a print release of the 3 novellas in one omnibus.
  • Tokyo Toddler. Your comments about my ongoing Tokyo Toddler series, based on our family’s 3-week Japan odyssey earlier this year, have been overwhelming! Many of you have been asking for a book version of Tokyo Toddler, and I do indeed plan to do this. I put TT on a breather while doing The Martini of Destiny launch, but this is another project I’ll be planning in the background. Can’t wait to share more of our travels with you!

Winding up, it’s now been just over 2 years since I began this journey as an independent freelance author and copywriter. Thank you for everything. Here’s to all the years, stories and sharing to come.




2 Homebrews

While there’s been much going on with e-book launches lately, it’s not all scribbling. I’d mentioned previously that I have a goal of brewing at least 6 times during 2013, and I’m really stoked to be halfway there. After going over my 2013 Homebrew Grab List with my wife, we settled on two beers to brew for summer sipping.

Over Memorial Day weekend, I did a big brew day. After all, when you’ve already got out all your brewing gear, it’s not that much more work to brew 2 batches instead of just one. Bubbling away in their fermenters right now are two beers:

  1. Lazy Haze Kolsch. We first brewed this lovely summer beer in 2009, and it has been far too long since we’ve made it. A recent piece in Draft Magazine also noted that fresh mint leaves added to a glass of kolsch makes for a refreshing summer combo, and we are definitely looking forward to trying this out with mint from our garden.
  2.  Weizenbock. This malty, partial wheat beer combines refreshing maltiness with a  big beer’s alcohol buzz. Clocking in around 8%ABV, we decided the weizenbock would be a great counterpoint to the lightness and lower alcohol of the kolsch. The inspiration for this brew came from a profile in the Jan/Feb 2012 issue of Brew Your Own magazine, but sadly I couldn’t find details online. Will provide more notes when I write up the recipe.

In addition to Jodie’s birthday beer, a Hoegaarden-style Belgian witbier, these two beers put me at the halfway mark for the year. It’s good timing, too. With summer coming on, I’ll be going into my usual summer brewing break, resuming brewing in late August or early September.

3 down, 3 to go.

Prost!




2013 Homebrew Grab List

Earlier in the year I talked about some goals for my homebrewing for 2013. A big one was how many times to brew this year.

My goal for 2013 is to brew 6 times. I’ve gotten in 1 brew so far (Jodie’s birthday beer, a Hoegaarden Belgian wit clone). Two more are on deck.

Here are the brews I’ve got on my grab list for the year, or my “might brew” list:

And you know what? I’m about to get halfway to my goal. After a quick run to Eugene’s Home Fermenter Center, I’m ready to brew a Weizenbock and a Lazy Haze Kolsch.

3 down. 3 to go.




Happy New Beer

Ah, sweet new year. A month in to 2013, and with it come visions of the smells of brewing and the sounds of bottles opening. Oh wait, I keep forgetting that bottling is too hard for most of you. Just imagine the sound of you pouring from a keg, ok?

As we look ahead to next year, I like you am wondering what I’ll be brewing. Here are some things I have in mind for a 2013 of homebrewing:

  • Brew more. As a new dad, I am okay with brewing only twice in 2012 (Majic Apricot Pale Ale and Lovntheyarden Brown Wheat Ale, plus an easy batch of cider). But with my son past the first year mark, I want to brew at least 4 times. Hopefully 6.
  • Brew some old faves. It’s easy to fall into a groove of never brewing the same thing twice. And it’s understandable. There are so many styles, clones, recipes, variants and new ideas that any of us could probably brew until we’re 100 and never brew the same thing twice. But there’s something to be said for making a few faves regularly. After 5 years of brewing, I’m ready for my brewing rep to include fewer new recipes and more old faves. Besides, old faves can always be improved!
  • A beer with character. Something you may not know about me is that in addition to beer writing and business copywriting, I am also working on a fiction series based in indie travel and urban fantasy. There is a beer (similar to Guinness, in my imagination) that is practically it’s own character. For 2013 I’m going to figure out this beer and its corresponding homebrew recipe.
  • Enjoy more local beer. 2012 has been a great year for craft beer in the area, and 2013 will be even more beertastic. Oakshire is opening their public house. Ninkasi and Hop Valley are working on expansions. Falling Sky has rocked our worlds, especially since it’s easier than ever to snag brew supplies and then nip next down the alley for a pint. And then there are the newbs coming online, like Plank Town, Claim 52 and Agrarian. I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t be happier to spend 2013 tucking into local craft beer. When not enjoying my own beer, that is; it’s so local it’s from my own kitchen.

Like all New Years, 2013 is a year of promise. It’s what we do with the time we have that makes the difference with how satisfied with how we feel we used our time. For me, that’ll be writing more, brewing more, spending more time with family, and enjoying more local beer. Starting right now, with this glass I raise to you, to yours, and to a Happy New Beer!

Revised; originally published in the Cascade Brewers Society Newsletter, December 2012




Homebrew: Ignore the instructions

Flavor extracts are easy to use... but their intensity casts a long shadow.

Flavor extracts are easy to use… but their intensity casts a long shadow.

It seemed so simple. I bottled half my brown ale straight-up (which turned out fine). I bottled the other half with hazelnut extract added to the bottling bucket. What I thought would be a passable cousin for Rogue’s Hazelnut Brown Nectar, wound up being 2.5 gallons of smelly nut juice.

Many things in brewing work well when you follow basic instructions. (You know, like “sanitize everything that comes into contact with your wort.”) But sometimes we come across instructions that are best ignored.

Brewcraft’s extracts are no stranger to my brew kitchen (so we’re clear, I don’t fault Brewcraft for this, just the brewer). An ounce of their apricot extract balances the Zeus hops in my apricot pale ale, one of my and my wife’s favorite beers. I know to ignore the label when it says to use the 4 oz. bottle to flavor 5 gallons of beer.

When the Hazelnut bottle said to use the entire 2 oz. bottle to flavor 5 gallons of beer, I should have known better. But instead of following my good sense, my experience and my instincts, I threw those away and followed the dang instructions.

At least, I thought I knew better. “I only need to flavor two and a half gallons, not five,” I thought. “If I use one ounce, I’ll be fine.”

Um, no.

What should have been a subtle yet detectable nuance of nuttiness, instead overwhelmed every other aspect of my beer.

My wife and I struggled through a few bottles before she said no more. I continued, out of a belief that as a captain goes down with the ship, a cook and brewer must down his mistakes.

Eventually I couldn’t take it anymore either. Most of that beer wound up in soups and braising sausages (which actually worked well).

Which brings us to a vital lesson. Instructions have their place, and sometimes their place is nowhere near your beer. Use your judgment and rely on your experience. And if using an extract to flavor beer, whatever you think you need to use, cut that number in half.

Reprinted from the Cascade Brewers Society Newsletter, October 2012




Hi.

Anthony St. Clair - Travel Fantasy Author / Craft Beer Writer / Business Copywriter

Author and copywriter Anthony St. Clair has specialized in online content since 2000, blogged since 2004 and is the author of the Rucksack Universe travel fantasy series.

FREE Sample

Check out this free sample of FOREVER THE ROAD

Anthony's third book, FOREVER THE ROAD, is a Best Books 2015 Fantasy pick from Library Journal's SELF-e, and a 2015 Oregon Book Award nominee.

Download your free sample to find out why Nth Degree's reviewer said this "high-stakes story, told with wit and compassion," left him "completely gobsmacked."

Rucksack Universe

Travel fantasy tales
of wit, adventure & beer

Forever the Road by Anthony St. Clair, a Rucksack Universe Fantasy Novel - learn more and buy now

Home Sweet Road by Anthony St. Clair, a Rucksack Universe Fantasy Novella - learn more and buy now

The Martini of Destiny by Anthony St. Clair, a Rucksack Universe Fantasy Novella - learn more and buy now

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