Archive for April, 2010

Tasting in Cincinnati

While on my trip to Cincinnati to visit my in-laws for the 3rd Annual Sell This House Extravaganza, it provided the opportunity to sample some homebrews between my brother-in-law, who taught me how to brew beer, and myself.  Who could ask for a better in-law than the kind that teaches you how to homebrew!?  Mainly I wanted to showcase how far I’ve come during my first year brewing and give him some thanks for getting me started.

He tried my:

  • Bah Humbug Holiday Ale (#3) – A modified Papazian recipe with ginger, cinnamon, and lots of orange peel.
  • Anything But Vanilla Stout (#4) – An Irish Stout flavored with Madagascar vanilla beans.
  • Meg’s Indubitably Dubbel (#5) – Belgian Dubbel with a fruity aroma that is easy going down.
  • Casper’s Extra Pale (#6) – American style Pale Ale with a floral bouquet and good mouthfeel.

I tried his:

  • Honey Kolsch – Soft on the palate sensation but still a great flavor that leaves you wanting more.  A great session beer, perfect for relaxing after a hard days work fixing up the house.
  • Extra Special Bitter – Good aroma, possibly some English overtones and a good hop flavor without being bitter.
  • Chocolate Oatmeal Stout – Damn good.  Dark and roasty with a wholesome oatmeal flavor.  More like this and it may win me over on Oatmeal Stouts.
  • Double Chocolate Oatmeal Stout – Not my cup of tea (-;).  It reminded me of a Milk Stout that I had recently.  It had a pungent aroma that wasn’t nearly as abrasive as the taste.

Enjoyed the rest of the weekend working on fixing up their house and brewing our third collaborative brew (a Barley Wine/Barley Little which I’ll post about soon).


Glass Etching or a Marked Yardstick

So I just got a second carboy to replace a bucket.  This got me to thinking about measuring the liquid in the carboy.  I’ve been marking my first carboy with a black sharpie to show the gallon levels, but every time I go to clean it the markings get pretty much rubbed off and I have to remark it again.  This got me to doing some research and it seems that a lot of people have been using glass acid etching to permanently mark their carboy (  As an alternative many people seem to just take a yardstick and mark the gallon level on the stick.  Either seems reasonable to me, but etching seems to have a bit more style points going for it.

Spent Grain Topsoil Recipe

I just got back from a trip to Cincinnati where my brother-in-law and I set forth on a collaboration brewing venture into the world of barley wine which I’ll talk about another day.  In addition to brewing, we did a fair bit of gardening while I was there.  The result of gardening and producing a lot of spent grains got me to thinking about being more self sufficient and becoming a better eco-friendly brewer.  So I found this spent grain topsoil recipe from the blog of Stone Brewing Co.

Chili’s Spent Grain Topsoil Recipe

– 2 shovels of spent grain from the Brewery
– 2 shovels of decomposed granite (Escondido’s natural topsoil)
– 2 shovels of vegetable compost from the Bistro kitchen
– A few handfuls of nicely aged mulch from the chipper

Combine two shovels of spent grain and two shovels of decomposed granite in a large bucket. The spent grain should contain little green specks from the hops used in the brewing process, and be slightly damp from the remnant wort (notice the desirable beery fragrance). The decomposed granite should be brown in color and have a moist dirt-like consistency. Mix together thoroughly. Add two shovels of vegetable compost from the Bistro kitchen. Make sure there is plenty of insect and worm life in the compost, and that it has a fresh earthy smell. This indicates an abundance of vitamins and minerals. Mix thoroughly with the spent grain and decomposed granite until mixture is consistent. Add a few handfuls of aged mulch (the mulch consists of fallen branches, twigs and leaves from the Gardens that have been fed through the chipper and aged in large barrels), blend thoroughly and voila!

Once the topsoil is nicely mixed, it’s time to plant. Chili recommends filling the bottom of the chosen pot with gravel for drainage, and surrounding the fledgling plant with the fresh soil mix up to the first few branches. Then top it off with a bit of aged mulch, lightly water it, and watch it thrive. Once the roots have grown deep and strong, delicately transplant it to its final destination.