Friday, February 27, 2009

Fermentation Friday: Keeping the Nasties at Bay

It's that time again, dear readers! Fermentation Friday for February 2009 is brought to you in part by the letter C, and A World of Brews.

So why the letter "C" you may ask? Well, until recently, I have exclusively used C-Brite as my sanitizer-of-choice. Why? Well, it's what my local homebrew supply shop had on hand when I bought my first kit, and since then, I've gone with the "ain't broke, don't fix it" attitude. Yes, over the last several batches I've used one-offs of it, but I'd always used a chlorine based sanitizer.

That is, until the last two batches. We were in need of some sanitizer, so Justin Picked up some One Step, which is a no-chlorine sanitizer. While I've seen no difference between the two except for the smell, I may opt for the One Step in the future, and have also thought about venturing into the world of iodophor.

I must add, though, that no matter what is used, cleanliness and sanitation are the two most important things that any homebrewer should master. Learn it. Love it. Live it. Clean it, then clean it again. Read directions, and mix properly. There's nothing worse, than bacteria in your brews. That is, unless you want them there.



Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The First Steps Toward All Grain

So over the weekend, Justin, Nate and I scoured every hardware, farm supply, value, and surplus store that was open in Indiana, PA in search of parts to build new Mash/Lauter Tuns. We were specifically searching for 10 gallon cylindrical coolers (to no avail) and the corresponding drainage hardware. The latter was easy to find, the former, not so much. This is why I settled for a 48 qt. square cooler. Nate's holding out hope to find the drink cooler.

Unfortunately, it's not built yet. I've run into some hardware issues and need to pick up some additional materials. This would be the reason for a lack of pictures and directions to what I did, both of which will follow upon completion. Until then, the MLT is just a cooler with a hole in it.

Time for a beer.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

I'm Pretty Sure I Love Bells . . .

A recent inventory of my fridge led me to the above conclusion. TEN of the 22 12. oz bottles in my fridge come from the Kalamazoo, MI based Bell's Brewery. And this isn't a case of bulk buying one beer. No, there are four Bell's brews gracing my chill chest at this moment. First, my old stand by and go-to beer, Two-Hearted Ale. Two-Hearted is an American IPA, chock-full of juicy, citrusy hop goodness and mouth puckering bitter that is surprisingly drinkable. This beer can cool you down on a hot August afternoon, or warm you up in dead of winter. It's always in my fridge.

Speaking of Hops, once a year Bell's ups the ante and releases Hopslam. This mid-winter release takes hops to the next level, upping the alcohol, bitterness and hop flavor while keeping it drinkable, almost to the point of a session beer, which is scary for a 10% ABV Double IPA.

Next on the list is Bell's Expedition Stout, their incarnation of a Russian Imperial Stout. Black as night and as viscous as 10w30, this roasty, chocolaty libation coats the palate with lingering maltiness and a balancing bitter. Great fresh or aged.

And finally, a brew I haven't tried, is Bell's Christmas Ale, a Scotch Ale that boasts Michigan grown barley and hops, which was a gift from Justin. I'm sure it won't last long.

So, yeah, I understand that the previous paragraphs read like a Bell's promotion, but seriously, barring the Xmas Ale, of which I have no opinion as of yet, all are favorites of mine, and are available locally, both in cases and in six-packs. The only thing that's missing is a Bell's tap in Indiana, which will hopefully be remedied soon.

Now, I'm putting the cart before the horse here a bit stressing the locality of this Michigan beer, but bear with me. As stated previously, part of "Keepin' it Local" is to patronize your local establishments, such as distributors and six-pack shops. By having such highly sought after beers now available in Indiana County, I now don't have to travel to Pittsburgh to find these beers, but like I said, I'm getting ahead of myself. I have a lot more to say on this topic.

but for now, Get some Bell's.



Monday, February 16, 2009

Keepin' it Local, the Introduction

A recent post over at Pfiff! got me thinking about the local beer scene here in Indiana, PA. Now, to not mince words, Indiana is basically a beer desert. Seriously. Living here is by far a beer geek's worst nightmare. Well, second worse, right behind not having any beer. The locals are full of BMC mediocrity, where even the "micros" are "macros", but I guess you have to cater to the crowd you have, namely swill-chugging collegians and fans of the ubiquitous "dark beer", Guinness. I've been living and drinking in this town for seven years now, and have, sadly, been both of the aforementioned stereotypes. Now I'm a beer geek/nerd/snob, the latter being the vein this post is written in, but back to the reason for this post.

Rob at Pfiff! posited the need for some retrospection concerning the availability of good, local brews, and if none are available, why aren't they. So for the past several weeks, since reading the post, I've been paying more attention to the availability of craft beer in Indiana and the surrounding area. And, be it fate or luck, there have been some significant changes in the normal tap rotation of local pubs as of late. Not only have tap lists expanded, but craft bottle selections have increased to some surprising heights. Not to get anyone's hopes up, but there have been some big steps forward, especially for this area.

The main issue with this is that there's no real "local" brewery in Indiana. No, no one has stepped up and opened a small brewery or brewpub in this college town. I personally think it would do well, but not having a solid financial background, nor a product good enough to put forth, this task can't rest on my shoulders. So with no truly local beer available, what's the next step in "Keepin' it Local"? Well, first is patronizing local bars, bottle shops, and distributors. This is where a lot of my focus will be. Secondly is expanding "local" to "regional". Now we're getting somewhere. Within a two-hour drive, there are no less than 11 breweries and brewpubs, many of which make some great brews. I'll be hitting on these, too.

I'm going to try to break this down into several parts to keep each post reasonably focused.

So stay tuned.



Sunday, February 15, 2009

I've Been a Bad, Bad Blogger. . .

So far this year I haven't quite stuck to my guns when it's come to Brew Year's Resolutions, namely in the "post better, more often" category. Well, I've had a few thoughts swirling around in my mind over the past week that I want to get up here, but they're a bit all over the place and can't be condensed into one post. So, just as an FYI, there will be a decent amount of beer news coming up in the next few days, and some thoughts on which direction the blog will be heading for the next several months.

Stay tuned, it'll (potentially) be a bumpy ride.



Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Homebrew Club Reunion

Club Meeting tonight.

Jon's back in town.

Get your butt out in the fantastic February weather and come join The Indiana Hombrew Club for some Philly Area microbrews.

See you all there.



Sunday, February 1, 2009

Super Bowl Sunday

Yeah, it's a beer blog. So I should put up a post about beer commercials and what America should imbibe on the second largest eating and drinking day of the year. Well, I'm not. All I have to say is. . .




Now back to your regularly scheduled blog.