Friday, December 30, 2011

The year in review

Year in review

This year was a loaded one for sure. A few bits of beer related info:
  • I went on 4 different beer focused trips to breweries that are based outside of IL
    • They were to Founders (2x) & 3 Floyds (2) but a trip is a trip
      • Founders events
        • Once for the hell of it
        • CBS release
    • 3 Floyds events
      • 15th anniversary party
      • My 1st Dark Lord day
  • I brewed at least 7x this year
  • Held my first beer + food pairing event
  • Converted a devoted wine person to beer (not completely but we are working on that)
  • I posted to this blog 16x this calendar year
  • I joined a homebrew club: Square Kegs ( )
On a personal level, it was also a good year:
  • I got engaged to my beautiful girlfriend of 3.5+ yrs
  • My Dad's cancer continues to be in remission
  • My fiance and I traveled somewhere out of state (someplace other than our respective home states)
  • A lot of photos were taken of the great times this year
  • My fiance surprised me w/ a visit from my nuclear family for my birthday

After looking over the lists above, I realize I have a few things to improve upon in the new year. Namely, I need to brew more beer, write more, travel more, and take more photos. Those  things aside, I would like to partake in a few more homebrew related projects, travel to more breweries (I'm looking at you Surly & Two Brothers), and I would like to increase the # of people I know in the beer community. Also, it would be nice to get out of the midwest for a trip.

All in all, it was a great year. I hope you all can say the same about yours.

Here is to a great 2011 and a better 2012!!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Square Kegs 1st homebrew competition

The homebrew club i am a part of, Square Kegs is organizing their first homebrew club competition. The flyer can be found below. If you are interested & able to submit beer for the competition, register at the following website: 

The event coincides w/ a craft beer event that will begin after the competition (at ~ 6p). I will share more info about that part of the event as it becomes available.

If you do submit beer, good luck! I hope to see you all there.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

English Barleywine, v1 review

It has been a few weeks since I bottled my 1st go at brewing an english barleywine recipe that i composed myself. The recipe was as follows:

  • 10 lb marris otter
  • 1 lb caramel 40
  • 1/2 lb flaked wheat
  • 1/2 lb vienna
  • 1.75 oz East Kent Goldings (EKG) 60 mins
  • 1/4 oz EKG 45 mins
  • 1/4 oz EKG 30 mins
  • 1/4 oz EKG 15 mins
  • 1/4 oz EKG 1 min
  • Yeast = Wyeast British ale 2 (1335)
  • Batch size 3 gal
  • Boil time = 90 minutes

After reviewing the recipe post-tasting, I am planning on making the following changes to the recipe:
  • Use a higher lovibond caramel malt (thinking 80) at the same quantity
    • Not only for a bit more sweetness, but I hope to get a darker color w/ the final product
  • Do away w/ the wheat
  • Be more attentive to the final volume (I believe I kept too much wort)
  • I am considering using a bit of rye to provide a bit more spice
    • 'A bit' = 1/4 - 1/2 lb
  • Considering using a bit of special B (1/4 lb)

The barleywine was not a complete wash. I did like a few things about it: 
  • It had great lacing
  • The carbonation was great
  • The head did subside but it never completely left
  • I liked the amount of hop bitterness the beer had

In summary, for a 1st rev I am happy w/ it. I did not kid myself into believing it would be a great barleywine the 1st time around. I have high hopes for the next iteration, and I think a few equipment upgrades & additions would help a great deal. For example, a false bottom, ball valve, a separate boil kettle, and a greater understanding of how to improve my efficiency (which is a continuing issue). 

If any of you have any suggestions for improving my barleywine, please let me know. I am open to all suggestions.