Archive for June, 2010

Just Brewed: Fiddy Fiddy Rye

13 Jun

This is an American-style Rye beer brewed with 50% malted Rye. The Rye malt adds a dry, crisp character to beer and some perceived spiciness. Typically it is used in amounts of 10-15%, but I decided to use Rye for half the malt base (hence, Fiddy Fiddy). This is more of a ratio used for wheat beers. Personally, I like a little uniqueness in the flavor and I’m a big fan of Rye whiskey. When I’ve had Rye beers before—such as Hop Rod Rye—I often wish there was more Rye flavor in the beer. So, I’m giving this a go. I figure, if it’s too much, we can always pull it back next time. But sometimes More is More.

Click here for the detailed recipe for Fiddy Fiddy Rye.

Batch Size: 6.00 gal
Boil Size: 8.03 gal
Boil Time: 60 min
Brewhouse Efficiency: 72.00
Amount Item Type % or IBU
0.50 lb Rice Hulls (0.0 SRM) Adjunct 3.70 %
6.50 lb Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 48.15 %
6.50 lb Rye Malt (4.7 SRM) Grain 48.15 %
0.70 oz Centennial [10.00 %] (60 min) Hops 26.1 IBU
0.50 oz Liberty [4.70 %] (0 min) (Aroma Hop-Steep) Hops -
0.75 oz Amarillo Gold [8.50 %] (0 min) (Aroma Hop-Steep) Hops -
1 Pkgs Kolsch Yeast (Wyeast Labs #2565) [Starter 1000 ml] Yeast-Ale
Beer Profile
Est Original Gravity: 1.051 SG Measured Original Gravity: 1.048 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.012 SG Measured Final Gravity: 1.008 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 5.04 % Actual Alcohol by Vol: 5.21 %
Bitterness: 26.1 IBU Calories: 210 cal/pint
Est Color: 5.8 SRM Color:

Mash Profile
Mash Name: Single Infusion, Light Body Total Grain Weight: 13.50 lb
Sparge Water: 5.72 gal Grain Temperature: 72.0 F
Sparge Temperature: 168.0 F TunTemperature: 72.0 F
Adjust Temp for Equipment: TRUE Mash PH: 5.4 PH
Single Infusion, Light Body
Step Time Name Description Step Temp
75 min Mash In Add 18.23 qt of water at 161.0 F 150.0 F
Mash Notes: Simple single infusion mash for use with most modern well modified grains (about 95% of the time).
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2010 California State Fair Results are in

12 Jun

Starry Blonde takes 2nd in the Cream Ale / Blonde Ale category.

Oktoberfest II takes 3rd in the European Lager category.

Alt Whitman takes 3rd in the Amber Hybrid category.


Mash Return Manifold w/ tension rod

06 Jun

This is my idea for an adjustable mash return manifold that can sit inside the cooler with the lid on.

First, some background…

I have messed around with a few different variations for returning wort to the mash during recirculation.

Version 1: Rest it on top

First I created a short, copper manifold with four outlets and hoped that it would “rest” on top of the grain bed during recirculation. This worked OK, but I found that the manifold would often not lay flat, which resulted in one outlet outputting most of the return while others did very little. I would try to adjust this during recirculation but it was hard to get it right. Plus I had to keep monitoring the progress to make sure it wasn’t way off.

Version 2: Long, vertical pipe

Next, I tried a long, vertical pipe with the same manifold on the bottom and a 1/2″ barb at the top. The plan was to adjust its height by clamping it through a wooden lid that sat on top of the cooler. This helped to keep the return more even, BUT, it meant that I could not easily look inside to check the flow while the clamp was on. I had to remove the clamp to remove the top. Plus the long vertical piece was hard to manage during setup, breakdown, and cleaning.

Version Null: Old School

At one point, I did away with the manifold completely and went back to recirculating with a pyrex measuring glass and carefully pouring the return on top of the mash. This was tedious and also had the downside of messing up my grain bed, which did not help with runoff or clarity. This setup also meant that I could not constantly recirculate as is done in a RIMS set up. I didn’t have a heating element anyway, so this was not a big deal at the time.

Version 3 & 4: Cut a hole in the mash tun

The addition of a RIMS heating element (details in another post) meant that I once again needed some sort of return option to constantly recirculate the wort.

The next idea was to use a hose, fed through the wall of the cooler, much like the Blichmann Auto Sparge. The problems with this, though, were 1) depending on the liquid level, the return would generate varying amounts of pressure and would adversely affect the grain bed by creating craters where the liquid came out of the hose; and, 2) when it was working well, the return would create a whirlpool effect and the wort would be sucked more from the sides than the center. Because of this last problem, I had different temp regions in the mash, indicating it was not draining evenly.

I then decided I should once again try the manifold and attach it to the hose that was now in the cooler. Luckily I was able to use the same 4-outlet manifold I created initially. I just cut off the long piece and attached some other parts to it. I again wanted to be able to adjust the height of the manifold so that it was always just under the liquid level. At first I did this with a clamp and a wooden rod. But this did not allow me to put the top on the mash tun, which meant I was losing heat. Not terrible in a RIMS set up with a heating element, but not ideal.

Version 5: What about a tension rod??

So, I had an idea to affix the manifold to a small tension rod that could be put inside the cooler and stay in place with…tension. I knew Bed Bath and Beyond sold tension rods, but I did not think I would find one that fit inside the cooler. They all seemed to be made for full-sized windows. When I got to BB&B, though, I was happy to see they had a 7″ model. These are not listed on the website, you have to go into the shop to find them. Once I had the tension rod, it was just a matter of attaching some clamps and such to affix the manifold. See the results in the gallery. Now I can adjust the manifold to any height and still keep the lid on. When I need to look inside to check flow, I just remove the lid.

I have not yet brewed with this return manifold; however, I do not see any reason why it wouldn’t work great. The only problem I can foresee is that heat and condensation, coupled with the weight of liquid running through the manifold, might cause the tension rod to slip a bit. But I should be able to tighten it to get around this. Or the tension rod might rust all to hell from the heat and steam. We shall see.


Ladyface Alehouse & Brasserie

05 Jun

Got a chance to check out Ladyface Alehouse & Brasserie over the weekend. I expected the decor would be much more rustic than it was. This place is much more done up than I had thought, and I was pleasantly surprised. The bar is very well designed and clearly a lot of time was spent on getting the details right. The decor is warm and inviting–what you’d expect in a brewpub. Staff was friendly and the patrons ranged in age from 10 years old up to 65 I’d say. A great mix.

We did not eat much, but what we did have (pomme frittes) were a bit disappointing. More like standard french fries than what you’d expect pomme frittes to be. We had a hard time finding and tasting the garlic and herbs that were supposed to be on them. The red ale ketchup was pretty good and seemed to beg for tastier fries!

So, on to the beers:

LA BLANCHE Belgian Wit – This beer had an amazing aroma. Very bright with coriander (predominantly), orange, and citrus zest. The mouthfeel and finish were spot on for what a Wit should be, but I thought there was a bit too much coriander in it. It left a sort of dried grass aftertaste. Aside from that, this is a very clean, well-brewed beer.

‘TROIS FILLES’ TRIPEL – A very nicely brewed tripel. A little bit thicker and a touch sweeter than some of the best brewed tripels, but still very much within the realm of what you would expect a tripel to be. Cleanly brewed and no flaws.

PICTURE CITY PORTER – This is a great porter. Chocolate and roastiness abound. Nice dry finish that leaves you wanting another sip. I think, if anything, the roastiness was a bit over the top and left a slight burnt flavor aftertaste (probably due to the coffee they say they put in it). It’s a very smooth, highly drinkable porter and I would definitely order this again.

BLIND AMBITION – A popular Belgian “amber.” Very drinkable. Medium bodied. Nicely complexity in the flavor. Low sweetness in the finish. Great belgian pale ale flavor and aroma. Would definitely order this again.

CHESEBOROUGH IPA – This is a fantastic IPA. I was extremely surprised to find it is a 9% ABV brew. It did not taste high in alcohol at all. Dry finish for this style, which I appreciated on this hot day. Amazing hop aroma and flavor with enough malt support to round it out. In general I do not like the way most IPAs attack your palate with hops and leave a thick film after successive sips. This one doesn’t do that at all. It’s a highly drinkable beer and would go well with most foods.

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Posted in Research