Crystal Rye Zythos

That’s what I called the beer in my notes, anyway. Faint citrus in the nose but it isn’t strong. I don’t think this is a scent hop.

The bitterness is a solid, steady citrus pith at the end. Zythos hops do provide a nice bite so any future use I have for them will probably be at the start of the boil and definitely to add any kind of citrus flavor to the finish.

All in all, however, this is a solid beer. I can’t say it’s super impressive; maybe I’ve gotten used to hitting a certain bar of quality and it’s hard to tell when I’ve really nailed it.  I can’t say that is a bad thing; good beer is good!

I can share the recipe, so here goes:

Brew date: 7.19.13

Steeping Grains
1.5 lb C 80
1 lb Crystal Rye

7 lb LME
added @ 20

1/8th oz in preboil
.75 oz @ 60
.5 oz @ 20

Reuse of Hopworks, last use

OG: 1.052

FG: 1.012

Secondary on 7.28
Added .25 oz of Zythos to this

ABV: 5.4%

Bottled 8.7.13

Thanks for reading everyone, I’ll see you next on September 9th!

Making a Dunkel pt 3


You can catch up from part 2, here.

After a week or so, I transfer the beer into another carboy; this part is called ‘secondary fermentation’. This is done mostly to increase clarity in a beer but it also removes a beer from any dead yeast or other detritus, usually hops, that precipitates out of a beer while it’s fermenting. For most homebrewers I’m told that secondary fermentation isn’t necessary but what I can tell you is that it works for me.

After a few days in secondary, I prepare to bottle everything. This starts with sanitizing bottles and bottlecaps, along with other equipment, like siphons and buckets, in a solution of iodophor and water for 20 minutes.  Then I have to let it dry for a little bit-again, 20 minutes but I’ve shortened or lengthened that time  a little and everything has worked out so far.


With that done, the beer is transferred into a bottling bucket. While this is being transferred, I also add in a simple syrup to provide food for what remains of the yeast, so the beer can become carbonated.

Making the syrup is easy enough; just boil water and add in sugar. I use plain white sugar but I’d imagine that if someone used brown sugar or honey or something else, that might have interesting effects on the way the beer tastes.I also take this opportunity to get a final gravity reading, in order to measure the beer’s alcohol by volume (ABV). It’s easier to do this now, rather then when I bottle because bottling involves the use of a bottling wand and that tool makes getting measurements difficult.


Finally, with everything sanitized and given time to dry, I can bottle. With the bottling wand attached to the end of my siphon, I simply insert the wand down to the bottom of the bottle, fill it and remove the wand. There’s a valve at the bottom that stops the flow of beer when I don’t press down on it, so for the most part, I don’t spill much beer.

I also put bottlecaps on the bottles as I go, and I do this for two reasons: First, I want to prevent anything else from falling into the bottle.  Second: I have been told that putting the cap on like this before sealing it, allows the beer to start pushing out oxygen right away. Oxygen is really good for yeast when fermenting, but really bad for beer flavors once the yeast is done, so any chance I can provide to make this beer better, I will take.


As the penultimate step, I cap the beer. This involves me taking the bottle capper and clamping down on each bottlecap, so a seal is formed. Once that’s all done, I put the beer aside so it can carbonate until I’m ready to drink it.

The final step is merely to clean it all up. Buckets, carboys and siphons all need to be cleaned for the next use and it’s a heck of a lot easier to clean them right away than it is to wait and clean it later.

New To Me: Da’ Hui

The bartender at Da’Hui tells me that I may not be able to get my Arrogant Bastard, because the tap can be tempermental. “It’s the fridge here,” she explains, “sometimes it just gets weird and this whole row of taps can just eatabagofdicks. ” She smiles, silver capped teeth gleaming.

I like her.

The tap spits foam like a dragon but eventually behaves and I get my beer. Led Zeppelin’s Ramble On kicks in on the stereo and I know: it’s time to end this series.

But it feels very Portland in here. There’s a sassy bartender who knows her customers, offering the drink before the order, dudes outside riding motorcycles on the sidewalk (and if I had my way, I’d pop their tires and let ’em walk home,) it is too dark inside to do anything but eat, watch TV or visit. I don’t know that I’ll come back often but I can put this on the list of friendly hidey-holes. I could almost justify this good time as a reason to keep poking around…

I have to admit, it’s time take a break. I could feel it these past few weeks going out. I was grouchy and resenting having to be in places with sub-standard Blade Runner lighting and what felt like no reason to exist. Worse, I wasn’t writing as well and I don’t like that at all.

Almost as much as I dislike this Arrogant Bastard.  Hops just ride the back end of this beer like medicine, and I wonder whose dick am I trying to measure up against by drinking it. Yeesh. It feels like I’m trying to punish myself. On the other hand, I got the Arrogant Bastard because I recognized the beer and thought; Maybe I’ll like it this time.

Nope. I have only myself to blame.

It has been a little over five years since I started this blog and I’ve kept my part of the bargain, I think.  I’m approaching 800 posts and I am grateful to everyone who has and is coming by to read. I’m having to delete more spam than ever, so clearly something is working! I just need a vacation.

So, this week will be the final week of posts until September 9th, 2013. I was thinking the 4th, but that’s a Wednesday and nobody starts anything on a Wednesday. If you need to find me, the Twitter is still out there, albeit a bit more random in its collection of my thoughts and, of course, I’ll still be reading any posts here. But I’ll start again with a new theme on the 9th and in the meantime, enjoy what’s coming this week!

Chamomille Wheat is hard to get right

Using tea in beer is harder than I thought. I seem to forget that the first time I made a beer with chamomile, I did so with a team of people who knew what they were doing. Thus; the beer came our great.

This beer had a metallic hit at the end, which I’m assuming came from the tea. It has that medicine-y taint.  This is despite my attempt to minimize the influence by adding the tea at flameout (when I stop boiling the wort) so I wouldn’t overboil the tea, which tends to produce off flavors.

However: a week later, when I offered this to a friend, he didn’t detect that metallic note. I had difficulty finding it too, suggesting that despite the appearance of being finished (carbonation is usually my ‘thumbs up’ sign) this beer needed just a liiiittle more time.

Brew Date: 6.8.13

Steeping grains
1.5 lb 2 Row
2.5 Wheat
.75 lb C120
Steeped for an hour

5 lb LME

.25 oz Glacier from Mild added in ‘pre’
1 oz Crystal @ 60
1 oz US Hallertaur @ 20
5/8th oz Chamomile tea blend @ -5
(Added after flameout)

Yeast: Wyeast 1010-American Wheat

SG: 1.062

FG: 1.01

Bottled 6.29

ABV: 7.0%

To Read

Draft Magazine has been making waves lately with this article, questioning if the craft beer market will fall.  My response to this can be summed up in this guy’s blog post (but not his writing style. The bold, man! Take it easy.)

Still, anyone who has paid any attention to economies at all for the past ten years should understand: there is no such thing as a perpetual boom. Planning for the lean times is just smart.

I don’t think that fire will rain down from the sky, nor do I think cats and dogs will start living together but I do think that eventually, people are just going to say: I don’t have money for $10 six-packs.

Hell, I don’t have money for that now! That’s why I brew my own!

On a different note, I found this post about beer glasses and while it didn’t really give me much beyond what I was doing for the Glass Experiment, it’s still neat, short, and not doom and gloomy.

New To Me: Bill’s Tavern Brew House

I met the family in Cannon Beach this weekend for vacation purposes. I can’t enjoy the beach easily; the conditions always seem too extreme to enjoy the outdoors and if I’m not going outside, then why go to the beach? However, seeing my family is always nice and with new places there is always the possibility that there will be new beers to try.

Which is why I looked for possible breweries in the area and found out about Bill’s Tavern & Brew House. My initial impression wasn’t much: Bill’s is a small place clearly overflowing with tourists and it is designed to cater to them with uninteresting pop music playing and a ‘beach theme’. Generally, this is something I would avoid but when in Rome…

I had the Little Stranger pale, on the right, my girlfriend the Rose’s Raspberry amber and to my delight, these were both really good! Her’s was a smidge thin, but had a nice raspberry thread running from the nose to the finish and just enough malt to keep it on the rails.

The Little Stranger can’t elude the NW IPA influence, but totally had a biscuit note at showed up post bitterness on the back end that affords the beer a high level of drinkable qualities. It’s nicely balanced, is what I’m trying to drive at and I think that the selection at Bill’s is broad enough to make most anyone happy for a pint or two. Recommended, if you can get in for a pint.

OBF Wrapup

This line, redacted from my notes (because I didn’t have a whole sample) says a lot:

Got a hit of Fuz’s 13 virtues cherry wheat which has a funky nose and thin body. Nope.

That was very much the theme for me at this year’s OBF. Lots of fruit beers, most of which were weaksauce.

Now, I don’t object to fruit beer per se. The problem is that as a style, it’s vaguely defined. You can really make it about anything; there are no defining hops, malts or yeasts for that style as it’s about the ‘base style’. Doesn’t matter what you do, so long as fruit is a component.

Compared to nearly any other style where there are rigid parameters that give people a sense of what they ought to expect from that beer. That doesn’t mean that brewers can’t break those parameters: it’s done all the time! However, when you tell me something is an IPA with Lager yeast, with a hint of Carafa II malt, because I’ve had IPAs and lagers and Carafa II malt, I have a sense of what to expect.  So how do I really compare or tell you if that cherry wheat ale works? What kind of cherries are being used? What kind of yeast is standard? How hoppy should be beer beer? etc, etc, etc.

Because there isn’t a North Star to set my compass by, it’s very difficult to make proper evaluation . Fruit beers should be fruit forward but still to style. Well how the heck to I evaluate that? What tells me that something is fruity enough? What characteristics do I really seek out to help discover the merits?

To top it all off, fruit beer is difficult to do and I propose that part of the reason for this is because, again, the style is vague. I had beer after beer that was supposed to be fruit -centric and found it to be lackluster. In some cases, this came as a real surprise to me, because I tend to like breweries like Gigantic or Natian, and I know those people understand what they’re doing. I just didn’t think it went well and I would like to be able to say: This didn’t work for me because versus this just didn’t work, and speak with some authority.

The winners of the OBF for my palate were: Widmer’s thai beer, with touches of lime and ginger. Old Town Brewing’s Portmunder, a nice, drinkable ale that was underrated by the crowd, I think. Finally, Elysian’s Oddfellow pear ale, a beer that I have no doubt benefited from their Apocalypse experiments of 2012. So it’s not that fruit beers are inherently bad, I just wish there was a way for me to get a better grip on what they should be, so I can understand better if they made the grade or not.

Finally, I wish that a few more breweries had made beers for the OBF–I’m looking at you, 21st Amendment or 10 Barrel. At over 85,000 people, this is one of the biggest events of the year! Showing up with a beer I can by at Fred Meyers is not making a case for your brewery.