Saturday, May 31, 2008

Home Brew Update

Not much on this front right now. Just a lot of waiting on really big beers. Justin and I did get a chance to check in on the Ides of March Quercus borealis. After 3+ weeks on the bourbon soaked oak chips, the "oak aged" character is pretty prominent. Even though the barrel-aged character is pretty strong at this point, we decided to let it go for a few more weeks to see what happens. We'll always have the option to blend it with the regular RIS. We shall see what happens.

The Missionary Position (MB0018) is still slowly finishing up fermenting. I'm guessing at least another week and we'll be where we need to be.



Friday, May 30, 2008

My First Time... Brewing

I will not make out my journey into brewing seem quite as glamorous as Dave’s. I had never really thought too much about home brewing more than getting a Mr. Beer kit and throwing together a couple bottles because it would be more for me to drink. I have always loved good beer, but most of the homebrew I had tried was garbage because it came out of a Mr. Beer. “It’s drinkable” is not an acceptable.

So, Dave and I started drinking good beer together. Originally, we found out that we both liked to play guitar, but after a couple days, we realized we both liked beer better. Dave had mentioned that he was thinking about brewing, but I wasn’t sure how serious he was. Well, when I tasted that first batch, I knew it was serious. I wanted to be a part of it. It was good.

Most of the stuff that we were making was pretty ordinary stuff. I was a big fan of hops, so Dave helped me write my first recipe, Show Your Hoppiness. It received some pretty good reviews. Since then, I have tried to come up with some more unorthodox flavors for our beers. Hence, the cinnamon porter and sesame ginger red ale. I contend the Dark and Mysterious would have been good has we not gotten tanked and added the whole container of cinnamon.

What it comes down to is brewing is one of my favorite things to do. It appeases the science and beer geeks within me as well as giving me more to drink. Yay. After tasting the Missionary Position out of the fermenter the other day, I know we are doing a good job.


I Remember When I Started Home Brewing . . .

Welcome to the first official Home Brew Blogging Day! Thanks to Adam over at Beer Bits 2 for putting forth such a great idea.

Muckney Brewing started just over a year ago in my kitchen, but the idea had festered in my skull for about 5 years prior, so I guess we'll start there. Back when my now wife and I were dating, we had taken an evening trip to Monroeville to shop and grab some dinner (back when gas was sub $2.00, you know, the good ol' days). After a few margaritas at Don Pablo's, we ended up at Borders for some unknown reason. As I perused the shelves, I came across Home Brewing for Dummies, which she, in her slightly inebriated state, purchased for me (so, yes, hunny, when you read this know that you played an integral part in this obsession). So after a quick read the next day, I was more than a bit apprehensive to start. It sounded like quite the complicated process and intimidated me (crazy, right?), so the book was relegated to the library where it sat for years.

In the interim between that day and my first brew, I was guilted a number of times by the wife that I never put said purchase to use. I did, however, give a presentation on said subject in a public speaking class, without any experience on the topic, which got a number of classmates into the hobby, but I still shied away from the process thinking it too complicated.

Fast forward to April 2007 when, after reading about the Indiana Beer Club and randomly stopping at a couple local home brew supply stores, I revisited Dummies and, after much contemplation (and a nice little monetary present from my Grandmother) I decided to take the plunge. So after work one day, I ventured to Village Home brew in Blairsville to get my rig. I left with a standard set up, a Better Bottle, and a Pale Ale kit.

So after a quick stop at Wal-Mart to pick up a brew kettle, I found myself hovering over my stove heating water and intensely reading the kit's directions. The brewing process went smoothly, until it came to cooling. In my (not so) infinite wisdom, I decided to pour my wort into my fermenting bucket and top it off, and place that in my kitchen sink to cool, which took until 4:30ish the next morning.

Two weeks later I pulled Justin into the fray at bottling time. I still remember taking a sample of the fresh brew, putting it to my lips, taking a long pull, and wondering how uncarbonated, room temperature beer could be so tasty. Justin had the same epiphany. Two pints later (each), we started bottling. I'm pretty sure we were about 8 beers light by the end of bottling.

From that moment on, I was hooked, or more correctly, obsessed with this hobby, which has blossomed into a true love for craft beer and all things home brew. Now one year and twenty-odd brews later, Muckney Brewing is still going strong.



Thursday, May 29, 2008

Dave's TravelBLOG Updated

Please refer to the title, then click here.

That is all.



Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Missionary Position is Awesome!!!

No, not that!! The beer! So after 17 days in primary, Justin and I decided to check the gravity of our Belgian Strong Ale. Weighing in at 1.096, this behemoth, if it reached its projected FG of 1.018, would weigh in at 10.25%. Not too shabby, if I do say so myself. Due to our recent issues, though, I was a bit worried about reaching our target.

Well, as of last night, we were at 1.025, which puts us at 9.2%, if it were to finish up here, but, alas, it is not done fermenting. There is still activity in the airlock, so there's a chance that it'll drop a few more points. If we get close to 1.020, I'll be mighty happy.

So how did it taste? Well, like alcohol. This puppy is hot right now! Of course, this makes sense. Once you get through the alcohol warmth, TMP is fruity with a rather up front hop character, which was what we are going for. This outing is going to need a good amount of time before it evens out, probably at least a few months of bulk aging, and then several more in the bottle.

Needless to say, we're happy with TMP's progress. Stay Tuned.



Monday, May 26, 2008

A Little Bit of Scuttlebutt

No, not Scuzzlebutt. While attending Pints for Pets last Saturday, I had the chance to talk to Matt Allyn of Voodoo Brewery about his endeavors in Titusville reopening Four Sons (read my previous post, here). It looks like it should be up and running mid-summer-ish under the name Blue Canoe Brewing. The goal will be to have 5 regular taps and 5 rotating/seasonal offerings once they are running at 100%.

Keep an eye on the Voodoo page for more information. A link to the new brewpub website will be linked to there once it's up and running.



Friday, May 23, 2008

Bearded Brewing Reviews Muckney's offerings

I don't know how I missed this. I guess it was because I was out of town on business and didn't read my usual blog roll. So, with apologies to Matt Damon, here's BB's reviews.

Thanks for the kind words.



Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Travelblog Updated

The first of a few North Jersey updates is now posted. Take a peek.

That is all.



Monday, May 19, 2008

Pints for Pets and New Blog

Hey all. Just a quick hitter here. Pints for Pets was a great time. I'll write more on this later. I'm currently in North Jersey and don't have access to my camera for pictures and such. The skinny - it was awesome. They did a fantastic job setting it up. There were some great beers from the brewers there (more to come on this). Honestly, just a great time overall. Seemed to be a huge turn out. Hopefully they'll post some stats on it. From the looks of it, they made a ton of cash for the Humane Society, and I would be surpirsed, ok, in utter shock if they didn't have another go round next year.

So speaking of North Jersey and traveling. . . I'm back on the road for work. I started another blog to document where I'm at and what I've found on my work-centered voyages throughout the country. Most will be beer/food-centric, as actual "tourist time" will be little, if any at all. Please bear with me over the next few weeks getting it set up and such, but I'm planning on posting about what little gems I've found while out for work. Definitely more to come, so check it often. I'm going to link the first few post and such to this site keep you all up to date.

Quick homebrew update - The Missionary Position is still rollin' away. It has slowed a bit, so fermentation will be done soon, allowing us to pitch Batch XX on top of it. Batch 19 will be a pale ale here shortly. We've gotta do something that will be drinkable before the end of year soon, and a good American Pale Ale seems to be the favorite. Check back for updates.

Stay tuned.



Friday, May 16, 2008

Oh, the Beer-manity!!

In such times as these with $4.00 a gallon gas, a rocky economy, and endangered polar bears, this only adds to the grim outlook for our country. Yesterday, the CEO of Miller Brewing announced that "cash strapped drinkers" are switching to economy brands such as Miller High Life and Milwaukee's Best. According to Mr. Long, this trend that started in January is due to the decrease in disposable income of consumers.

Sales for both Miller Lite and Miller High Life were up 1.1% while MGD was down 10.6%. Oh, and 4th quarter revenue was up 15% for SABMiller. The article didn't address their "craft beer" lines, though, which I found odd. One would think that there would have been a steep decrease in the sales of these brands if Mr. Long were correct, but the best they could come up with was MGD as a "premium brand"?

So what is my take on all of this? Frankly, an increase of 1% for two of SABMiller's "flagship" beers is hardly reasoning enough, in my opinion, to declare that all beer drinkers are trending towards drinking more cheaply. Hell, that can be atributed to people switching from Coors Light and Bud Light becasue Miller Lite/High Life actually have a semblance of taste.

There's nothing like taking a small cross-section of the industry and turning it into an economic indicator, especially when said industry is brewing. This is what happened on Morning Express with Robin Meade. Nothing like waking up to hear that more and more swill is being purchased. Such a grim outlook for our country, well at least in taste of beer.

Good thing Pints for Pets is tomorrow. Hopefully the crowd's large enough to instill in me a new sense that humanity actually enjoys delicous craft beer . . . oh, who cares, at least we'll get to enjoy it.



Thursday, May 15, 2008

This Week, We Celebrate!!!

Everything else has an official celebratory week, so why shouldn't Craft Beer. Hell, even The US House of Representatives agrees. So, having started Monday, May 12, 2008, we are in the midst of American Craft Beer Week which continues through this Sunday. If you're down, you can check out a list of events in your area. I will be celebrating in Altoona, PA at Blair County Ballpark (in the rain nonetheless) while attending Pints for Pets. There are a number of us going from the home brew club and should prove to be a fun-(beer) filled day.

So why the sarcasm at the beginning of the post? Well, after reading the press release, i got a bit worked up about the wording (I know, semantics-schemantics) concerning what was actually being celebrated. And I quote:

American Craft Beer Week (May 12-18), which is celebrated annually, highlights the industry and culture of craft beer. This year, breweries and beer makers will also recognize their collective charitable contributions. For the first time ever, the Brewers Association announced U.S. craft breweries’ charitable contributions, and for 2007 they are estimated to be more than $20 million.

What? You're thinly veiling a week dedicated to imbibing malt beverages behind the fact that the industry donated $20 mil to causes in their local area? Let's call a spade a spade here. Don't celebrate "beer" by pushing the fact that the craft brewing community supports the local PTA. From HR 753:

Whereas American craft brewers are vested in the future, health, and welfare of their communities . . . as commited sponsors of a broad range of vital community institutions and philanthropic causes, including parent-teachers' associations, Junior ROTC, children's hospitals. . ..

That's all well and good, and I sincerely commend each and every brewery that gives back to its local community. If you are going to celebrate this generosity, though, don't call the week "American Craft BEER Week", (see, semantics) because what is supposed to be celebrated and what the participants are actually celebrating are two different things. I guess it comes down to this - if you are going to celebrate the community service of American Breweries, do so and flaunt it. If you are going to celebrate American Craft Beer, then don't hide the fact that you're planning on drinking behind the breweries' service projects.

I guess this hearkens back to days of the Temperance Movement. You know, the one that brought us Prohibition. I really do not understand this country's apologetic nature when it comes to alcohol. Or, more specifically, the need to make the fact that a person likes to drink beer somehow more chivalrous or meaningful. This, though, is another discussion for another day.

So . . . Kudos to the many American Brewers that care about their community and so graciously give their time and money to help improve the world around us. As for American Craft Beer Week, I'll be celebrating the brewers product, like the title implies.



Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Surly is Delicious

Last Thursday I finally got to dig in to the beers from The Bearded Brewer. At our monthly pre-meeting meeting for the Indiana (PA) Home Brew Club (read: tasting/BSery), I broke out both Surly offerings, Bender and Furious. I was excited to try both, as they've both received some hype on That, and I love hops.

Here's the Nitty-Gritty


16 oz. can courtesy thebeardedbrewer shared with the exec board. Pours brown with small, khaki head. Nose of chocolate and roast with a touch of hops. Ok, a lot of hops and some coffee. Lots of roasty, burnt flavor with some chocolate. Good bitter melds with the roast. Good beer. Stone XI-esque. . . kinda.

This was an interesting interpretation of a Brown Ale. Not as malty as I had envisioned, more porter-esque in my mind. Whatever it was supposed to be, it was a pretty solid beer. I like when brewers try to meld styles.


16 oz. can courtesy thebeardedbrewer shared with Exec. Board. Pours amber red with off-white head. nose of grapefruit and grass, some sweet resiny notes. Taste is huge hop flavor, grapefruit, resin, pine and grass. Decent caramel malt backbone. Great IPA. Good Balance.

Furious definitely wasn't as complex as Bender, but was just a great example of a standard American IPA. Big bitter and big American Hop flavor balanced out by a nice caramel backbone. Nothing tricky, just done well.

On the home brew tip - The Missionary Position is bubbling away still. This is expected - and welcomed. We don't want another stuck fermentation.

As for the future of Muckney Brewing, we're planning on doing a classic American Pale Ale. We've brewed a lot of big beer recently, and nothing close to a session beer. So Justin and I agreed on doing an APA before we went crazy on our next project, which is going to be the Stone Soup Porter, which just got crazier. Beside using only leftovers in this batch, we're going to pitch it on the yeast cake from TMP. It's definitely not going to be to any style. Were thinking of shooting for an even bigger beer than TMP. I mean, we have all of those hungry yeasties in there, might as well feed them. There are some ideas being tossed around, and I'll post them as they become more solid.

Keep checkin' in.



Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Missionary Position

Saturday was a Brew Day. Lots of firsts with this one. First time venturing into Belgian Land. First time we had an "open grain bed" (more on this later). And, as of today, first time we needed a blow off tube.

The Missionary Position is a Dark Belgian Strong Ale brewed with Wyeast's Trappist High Gravity yeast. We're planning on adding dried mangoes to secondary for a little fruit lift.

The day went pretty well once we got rollin'. Attempting to get an early start, Justin and I were thwarted by my lack of inventory adjustment, thinking that I had one large grain sock left which we use as our lautering device in our mash tun. So after a few minutes of trying to figure out a way to MacGyver a lauter tun, we decided to use some cheese cloth, which we draped over the cooler and secured underneath the lid. And this is what I mean by an "open grain bed". Instead of usually tying off the grain sock, the top was left open. This actually worked a heck of a lot better. It was easier to stir the grain to make sure it was saturated and it created a better "filter" (mainly because it's an actual grain bed). So, I think we found a new technique.

After that little hiccup, the rest of the day went smoothly. We ended up with an OG of 1.096. That's a lot. So I was expecting a vigorous fermentation. Definitely nothing as vigorous as what's taking place in my dining room. The normal airlock got clogged twice, causing it to fill up, so I had to put a quick blow off tube together.

But now, as of Sunday night, it seems that all is well.



Friday, May 9, 2008

Quick Hitters - RIS Update

Last night Justin and I FINALLY transferred the Ides of March RIS (MB0016) and the Ides of March RIS Quercus borealis (MB0017) to secondary. Respectively, their FGs were 1.031 and 1.035. Not exactly where we wanted them, but after 54 days in primary, rousing the yeast, pitching new yeast and a helluva lot of waiting, It had to be done. So we racked on over to our secondary vessels, being sure to add the Oak chips with Wild Turkey to the carboy. Off they went to the basement for at least a month, probably much longer to bulk age and then be bottled for a tasty winter treat. I hope all is well.

Up next: The Missionary Position BSA - tomorrow. More to come.



Thursday, May 1, 2008

A Present From the North

Thanks to our good friend at Bearded Brewing in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Muckney Brewing is now enjoying some the Northern Plains finest beer, including two Bearded Brews, Irie Stout and Mayabock. I'm definitely looking forward to this trying these home brews. Tasting notes to come.

On top of the Bearded Brews were included offering from Surly Brewing (Bender and Furious), Summit Brewing (Extra Pale Ale and Maibock) and an offering from Rush River, The Unforgiven Amber Ale. So, as you can see, lots of tastings this week.

A huge thank you to our Bearded Friend from the Twin Cities.

More to come. Stay tuned.