Blehhhhhhhh!!!!!!!  Or how to fix (sorta) an old messed up homebrew


This really is going to be short.  The remnants of my quick experiment just slid down my gullet.  It wasn’t a bad experiment, just a quick response to a need—the need to improve the flavor of an old, slightly funky homebrew.

If you may recall, a few months ago I did a SMTHbeer.  That is a single malt and two hop brew.  Usually you do only one hop but I didn’t have enough Cascade hops so I through in just enough Centennial to up the Alphas.  It turned out to be a weak beer but one I could readily understand.  The hops were clear and the malt, though merely base, was discernible. 

Fast forward to now.  I have the remaining bottles and a sense that throwing it out is a sin simply because throwing stuff out is hard.  And a bit of a waste.  So how shall I fix this?  Use a lovin’ spoon full of sugar— in the form of berry sauce.  The sauce was made for a cheese cake and was simple:  blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and a sprinkling of sugar.

So I took a spoon full of that and added it to my pint glass before filling.  The results can be seen below:

 

experiment along side its ugly parent

 
The aroma improved.  The berries were nice with the tart and sweet.  The flavor was only a bit different from the original though with the berries adding only a smidgen of cover to the old beer flowing from the bottle and glass.

Overall it was an experiment I will try again with another bottle, but with more berry sauce.  The color was a fun side effect as well.

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So sad….but wait…there is possibly more


I was going to write about my weekend of awesome home brews shared between awesome friends under a glorious sun on a never ending beach.  But that didn’t happen.  It couldn’t happen.  Nature stepped in and I found myself laid low by a nasty stomach bug.  Woe was me! 

From reports, the homebrewers meeting was a success and, though I missed everyone, I look forward to the next possible meeting in the fall.  In the meantime, what I have in store for the next few weeks should help my spirits. 

Soon, depending on the weather, I am going into vacation mode and packing the family off to Florida.  While there I’ll be enjoying the usual sun and sea, but I am also looking forward to stocking up a bit on hard to find things here and maybe a treat or two there for new equipment:  Starsan, a carboy carrier, and maybe a growler for fun.

The prices are also something to look forward to.  Here in Japan, craft beer prices can be a few hundred yen per bottle. Depending on the exchange rate, that comes out to $5 or more at times for a good craft brew.  Now, in the U.S., that same $5 might get me a few more bottles.  I’m feeling like a kid in a candy store even though I don’t drink much.  I have some particular breweries in mind.  Cigar City Brewing is top on the list but there are a few newer (since last I traveled the area) spots I’m hoping to make.  So, if anyone reading this has been to the Tampa Bay Area, what breweries and particular beers do you recommend?  What are your top Florida craft brews?  I’d love to hear from you.

Comparative Beering


A SMaSH is a simple home brew:  Single Malt, Single Hop.  It’s a way to study the characteristics of one type of malt and one type of hop in a simple beer.  You can really concentrate on how malt and hop waltz across your tongue and linger, possibly, intimately in the back of the mouth.

I didn’t make a SMaSH.  I made a SMaTH.  It was a simple.  I just mis-measured.  I though I had enough Cascade hops; I wasn’t quite there.  I had to add a bit of Centennial just to get the IBUs to an acceptable level.  That is why it’s Two Hops.

I also didn’t use a neutral yeast.  I should have used a S-04 or something similar.  It wouldn’t affect the flavor much.  I used a Belgian yeast, a yeast that ended up dropping hints of banana into the brew.

I could have written about this little experiment a month or so ago but I wanted time to let it mature a bit.  I also wanted to be able to taste it at various stages of development.

The initial impression is of a very light beer with slightly higher than Budweiser or Miller level hops.  I figured out, and it was later commented on by friends, that the slight hoppiness is probably due to the base malt only light-to-none body.  An inefficient mash is most likely the culprit.  I didn’t sparge the brew-in-a-bag mash so next time I will start doing that and seeing what the outcome is.  I liked the hoppiness actually.  My wife did, something she usually has a problem with.

As the beer has aged, it has improved a bit, though the flavors and aromas have mellowed.

In a few months, once the humidity and intense temperatures of summer have retreated, I will return to a new brewing season with some fresh ideas and improved methods.  One is the importance of sparging for efficiency.  I’m looking forward to it and the beers I hope to brew.

A Day at the Beach


It’s sad but a good friend is leaving. He has been in Japan for nearly a decade and he has, along with his family, decided it is time to move on, take a new path in life. He was the friend who got me interested in home brewing. We made a few good brews together, and enjoyed drinking quite a few together.

Last Sunday the local home brewers got together at a popular beach in Kobe with a 20 liter keg of American Pale ale we had made a month before. We set up in the shade of trees in a park nearby. Besides the keg, there were a few other home brews and craft brews on hand.

The APA was a malty brew with just the right amount of hops. Even in the summer heat it was good.  It wasn’t crisp and refreshing but it was something I would, could, come back to anytime of the year.  The beer was only in the keg for a week so it is still quite green. I hope I can get another taste soon for comparison.

There was a hefeweizen on hand, as well, which was nice for the season but had a bit of a banana flavor that seemed wrong; it seemed just a little too much.

In the end it it was a good day even if we had to say goodbye. The beach was a nice place to do it, though.

Hopefully, in a year or so, I’ll be heading over to England with fellow brewers and/or family to see this good friend.  There will definitely be a local beer tour somewhere in there.

Finally! A Spent Grain Bread You Can Eat!


Wow! すごい!Unbelievable! My reaction to a well baked loaf of bread may seem excessive, but I have a reason. This is the first time that anything I’ve made with spent grain from a home brew has really turned out…edible. Oh, it looks good too.

Actually, I’ve made cookies with spent grain before. That occasion I used an oatmeal cookie recipe as a base replacing most of the oats with spent grain from a pale ale I had made earlier in the day. Those cookies turned out soggy and left the impression that they weren’t fully baked. I believe it was from using wet spent grain.

The spent grain I used this time into my bread was simply thrown in as an adjunct to the standard bread recipe for my bread machine. The spent grain was from a beer I helped in brewing at a friend’s place a few weeks ago. I put a bit in the freezer for later use. The defrosted grain (I only added a couple tablespoons) seemed just moist enough and the results were wonderful.

I had to toss the remainder of the grain (just a little bit though it was) in the rubbish so next time I freeze spent grain, I’ll do it in smaller single use packets. That should give me a bit more use out of it.

So, have you ever baked with spent grain? What have you baked? What are your successes and failures?

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Long Time No See 久しぶり!


It’s been a long while and plenty of that time has been spent with beer of many different kinds.  With my quest for better health in full swing, though, I have not had as much to drink as I’d like. I don’t mean that I want to get shit-faced all the time or simply more; I just want to try more of the great variety of craft beer and home brew available in Kansai now.

Since late December I’ve been using different means to slim down and get into shape. I got a fitbit so every step I take I monitor and analyze. I watch what I eat and drink along with exercising every day. The result is a nearly eight kilogram loss and actual visible muscle growth. My waist has shrunk as well.

As I was watching my intake of calories I found the quantity of beer I drank fell off dramatically –ability as well.  Quantity was never a priority, but quality over quantity really has become the most important thing in the six plus months since starting this diet/lifestyle change. I may not drink every day but I do savor each craft or home brew I drink.

I haven’t been singularly devoted to changing my diet and exercise habits though. Anyone who has seen my Untappd (kansaiclikker) account knows that there have been more than a few times when I have logged a bunch of brews within one night.  A recent trip to a friend’s place can attest to this.  I tried at least eight beers (all small amounts) from craft and Belgian brewers.  My favorite was definitely the  Stone Smoked Porter with Chipotle Peppers.  On top of that I tried a lemon ale and a ginger beer from an up and coming home brewer.  There was also a great off flavor tasting to know what problems can arise and how to remedy them in the home brewing process.

Since my last post there have been several festivals where I got to try everything from a little 3.5% ale to a whopping 15.5%.  I’ve also had to say goodbye to some good friends who have gone onto different paths in life.  It’s sad but we got to share some beautiful beer together.  In the coming months I will be seeking out more brews and bidding farewell to more friends.

So for now good brews to you and keep it classy.  Quality trumps quantity, usually!  And see you hopefully on Sunday when I throw that rule (is it a rule or just a rough guideline?) out.

Little Writeup for a Weekend of Beer


Right. So I’m actually writing about the time I said I would. But enough about that. Time to bathe in the beer tub of my weekend.

Saturday night I attended the monthly beer dinner at Asahiya in northern Osaka. This lovely little shop carries craft and big beer brews from all over the world. The owner is a wonderful man who opens his shop and home with tremendous warmth. Each month seems to feature different beers along with food prepared by his family that compliment the beers.

I started off with the Minoh Yuzu White. The citrus aroma was well defined and the flavor was quite refreshing. I like this beer a lot but enjoy. It much more in the heat of the summer. I followed this up with Shiga Kogen’s African Pale Ale. I’m still unsure what that actually means—anyone know?— but it is one of my favorites and I always have some when I get a chance.

As always I enjoyed Asahiya’s event very much. I ate more than I should have and will next time as well.

Today. Today was the first meeting of homebrewers for this year. So many beers were submitted and we still lack a formal way of critiquing each other’s brews so there was some confusion. Yet from this we have some ideas on how to improve or comments to the beers and thus helping each other improve in our beer endeavors.

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