Category Archives: Brewing

Dig me some homebrew.

30 days to go

There’s two touchstones in my running year: the New Haven 20K on Labor Day, and the Vermont City Marathon on Memorial Day. They’ve kinda become family holy days of obligation – really no thought as to what we’re doing those days except for heading to Burlington or New Haven.

The last couple years, we’ve done the race as a relay, since Melissa’s pretty much targeted fall marathons, and, well, I’ve kinda gotten fat and slow (working on that). Twice with Missy and I splitting the two person relay, and once with the whole family splitting the 5 legs. This year’s another relay; not sure for sure what leg I’m running, but it’ll be one of the 10K or so legs.

I’m pretty confident I can crunch out 10K – the lungs are good, the legs are OK, and I think I’ve fixed my ankle. The thing that’s sticking in my head, though is three seconds per mile. Confession: I’m as fat as I’ve been in years. I thought I was fat when I was at 180 pounds; I’ve been hovering around 200 for the last year. So, my 10 to 11 minute miles should be 9 to 10 minute miles if I were where I was two years ago, and should be 8 to 9 minute miles if I could get down to a non-overweight BMI.

Le sigh.

One of the things that’s interesting to me is that my weight gain has really corresponded with letting the blog slide. Maybe it’s the accountability; maybe it’s just that I’ve been busy with other things.

Regardless, today was a good day – did a Nike+ benchmark, and the legs felt good. I’ll declare victory and move on.

Late January Brewing News

I bottled the Tri-Pale Ale this weekend. The bottling part went smoothly – boil some Dry Malt Extract, add it to the wort, siphon into bottles, and then cap. What I’d forgotten was how much of a pain in the butt cleaning bottles was. Luckily, in addition to those that I’d been squirreling away for the last couple of months, I’d been donated some large Grolsh-style bottles. Put on new washers, and, man, how easy is that? These are meant to be shared…Rye pale ale bottled

Next batch is teed up, too – my wonderful Mother-In-Law gave me a pilsner kit for Christmas; need to get on that while the basement is chilly. So, I took 4 ounces of light dry malt extract last night, boiled them up, cooled them down, and pitched the White Labs Pilsner Yeast that came with the kit. Largely a precautionary step, but, having been a while since I’ve brewed, I forgot to refrigerate the yeast when the kit arrived, so it’s also an opportunity to go get more yeast if it’s not viable. We’ll know in the morning, but signs are hopeful. The tube of yeast smelled great, and was under pretty good positive pressure when I opened it, so if the starter is bubbling happily today, everything is copacetic.Lager Starter

Tri-Pale Ale

Not meaning (completely) to turn this into a homebrew blog, but I’ve misplaced my brewer’s book, and need to jot down some notes on today’s brew.

Inspired by the INSANELY good rye pale ale that Magic Hat (I think, though it could have been Otter Creek/Long Trail) that ended up in my fridge this summer, and the donation of a nearly complete set of homebrew equipment (complete for extract/partial mash, but once upon a time I was an all-grain brewer, so until I’ve mashed in my shiny new ten gallon Gott cooler, I’m not fully back to brewing), I decided that my return to brewing would be a rye pale ale. To tie it back to Runmystic, let’s call it a Tri-pale ale (Get it – Rye/Tri? Whatever.)

Having not brewed since being a dad, I looked for a rye pale ale recipe from which to crib. Mostly, I was looking for how much rye malt I could get away with. Ended up finding Menu-In-Progress’ ‘Piggish RPA’ recipe, and simplifying from there. Plus, life intervened.

I sourced most of my ingredients from Craft Brews Supplies in Wyoming, Rhode Island (actually a town). Run by a dude and his wife in a house right by the stoplight. I really hope they stay in business, since they’re on my way to Newport, and it looks like they’re trying to source at least some local ingredients – the recipe is all Cascade hops, contrary to Menu-in-Progress’ (MIP from here on out, ’cause it takes me back to school and living in fear of getting a MIP – Minor in Posession) bill. But, the hops are all from Ocean State Hops, and the water is all out of the tap.

My bill of ingredients:

  • 1 lb Rye malt
  • 4 lbs 2 row Barley malt
  • 1/2 lb Wheat malt
  • 4.5 lbs Breiss Golden Light Dry Malt Extract (DME)
  • 1 oz Cascade hops (1 hr)
  • 1.2 oz Cascade hops (1 hr)
  • 2.3 oz Cascade hops (2 min)
  • 2 oz Cascade hops (secondary fermentation)
  • Yeast – Mismash of Munton’s Dry Ale Yeast, cultured yeast from Long Trail unfiltered IPA, and Ommegang Three Philosophers 2009

OK, so homebrewers, look away – I broke pretty much every rule in the book on this one.

As per MIP’s recipe, I crushed the grains in my handy Corona mill, stuffed them into a sock (muslin bag), and struck them with 8.25 quarts of water heated to 165 degrees. Mash temperature was dead-on at 150 degrees. The mash was in my 12 quart stainless steel kettle nested inside my 7 gal enameled boil kettle, acting kind of like an unevaluated thermos bottle. Worked like a champ.

Here’s where I start drifting off the reservation.

The initial mash went as planned – an hour at 150-153 degrees. Then, I pulled the sock out of the mash, and poured the wort through the mash into my 7 gallon bucket, since I had to get J. to swimming lessons. The ‘off the reservation’ was that I didn’t have time to let the sock drain after sparging with 5 quarts of 180 degree water. So I ended up with about 2.5 gallons of hot liquor instead of 3 gallons. Not the end of the world, IMO, but after this, in no way does my brew resemble MIP’s. Put the cover on the brew bucket.

After sparging, J. and I went to the Y, came home, and had supper. So, the liquor was pretty cold when I came back to it. I added about 3.5 gallons of water, ’cause I’m a huge fan of doing a full boil, and added all of the Briess DME. Took about 25 minutes with the jet boiler in the garage to bring it to a boil.

Threw in the hops as indicated above. Put the kids to bed. At the last hop add, I dropped in the newly-passivated wort chiller, made sure everything boiled for two minutes to kill the beasties on the copper, and then started chilling the wort.

No worries so far – 20 minutes with the wort chiller in Connecticut January, clear sky, and the wort was down to about 75 degrees. Stopped the chiller, poured the pot through a strainer into the fermenter ( big plastic bucket, need to buy a 6.5 gallon glass primary fermenter), and pitched the yeast. Well, first I dropped in the dregs from the bottle of Three Philosophers I’d enjoyed while brewing, and then I threw in the half-gallon starter I’d made over the last 10 days.

Another place where MIP is off the hook for how this beer turns out. I’m a big fan of culturing yeast from beers I like, and Long Trail had an unfiltered IPA this fall. Great, right? So, I started a culture with two quarts of water boiled with two cups of Briess golden DME. The wife and I drank four bottles of Long Trail IPA, and pitched the sludge into the starter. Sit back and let nature take its course.

‘Cept it didn’t. 36 hours later, the fermentation hadn’t really taken off, so I threw in a sachet of Munton’s dry ale yeast, which is an old standby. About 2 hours later, the airlock was blasting away, so I’m pretty sure it’ll be OK.

Anyhoo, the beer’s sitting in the corner of my lair as I type. The airlock’s not going crazy yet, but it’s pressing in the right way – hasn’t been sucking air in, looks to be pressing air out.

I did run over the break. Good stuff – the strength work I’ve been doing seems to be working like a champ. Ride to work tomorrow?