09 November 2008

Santa cruz organic beer

Posted by ShoZu

Trains & Grains

Today I'm amtrakin it to sacramenfroh to see friends and taste beers. In the meantime I'm trying to figure out how to blog from my iPlod.

Posted by ShoZu

05 October 2008

BATCH #1 - All Grain Day

I finally gone done it. My all-grain system is up and running. Today was the day that the final hops were harvested and thrown into the batch #1 of Zombie Beer.

I still have a lot to learn, but I think today was a success! Everything worked. I'm not saying that I'm going to have great beer as a result, but definitely beer!

Some observations:
  • The propane stove rocks! Brings five gallons to a boil in 20 minutes. At least twice as fast as on the stovetop.
  • I need more hot water on hand to finish the sparge. I had to start and stop several times.
  • There is a possum living in our basement. When I went to get my equipment out, I saw its butt and tail. I thought it was a HUGE rat. Only later when Steve saw it did I learn that it was actually a pink-eyed marsupial.
  • Windex takes out iodophor stains. This was necessary information when I spilled it ALL OVER the freshly painted bathroom walls and tub. Bad moment in my day. But it looks almost good as new now.
I really need to learn more about mashing. Today I just guessed at it - got the temperature right and let it sit for an hour. Turns out I didn't get nearly enough sugar out of the 12 lbs of grains I threw in. I think my low-yield high-hopped beer will be around 5.5% alchohol. Should've been more for the amount of grains + the amount of evaporation.

Soon we will taste and see if the swell of success was imaginary or legitimate!!

15 July 2008

High Hops

I cannot believe how big my hops are. There are little flower bulbs all over, It's looking like I'm going to have a huge harvest if all of those little blossoms turn to cones.

A Tower of Tangle
We're gonna need a bigger boat
Happy little Hoppers

Now, what will I do with all those little beauties? I'm thinking that it would be a shame to use them with a bunch of malt extract. What are the chances of getting my all-grain up in action by the time I get back from Japan in September?

27 May 2008

Half Dome

Last Monday nine of us hiked up Half Dome. This is not to be confused with "climbing" Half Dome (thx Evan), as that would be super crazy. Here is a link to the pictures. I got some good ones!

When we got back to the base, I drank this:This is a beer blog, after all. Anyway, I wanted to mention it because I like the new micro-can trend. It may never catch on, but I am for it.

Oh, too bad the beer wasn't great. Pretty hazy for a pils.


17 May 2008

All-Grain Demo

This morning I went up the the homebrew supply store for a demonstration on all-grain brewing. I have been a bit in the dark about what sort of rig to invest in, and I was hoping today I could talk to someone who knew a few different approaches to the craft. I got more than I asked for! There were 5 brewers there, all with their own rigs. The variety of approaches showed me that anything will work, just see what works for me. Oh, and remember to have fun.

Above is the in-house system. Professional, sturdy, straight-forward. Probably more than I want to take on right away. Not portable or storage-friendly, though probably makes awesome beer. This rig was surpassed by one of the other brewers, who won a super custom rig in a raffle. There is a picture below.

This thing was a rolls royce. I'm more interested in getting something to make great beer in a smaller space; I don't know how long my housemate will put up with me. Here are the other rigs:

Above is a great table-top rig that would work anywhere.

This one with the blue cooler interested me most, mostly due to the awesome pump that he was using. I didn't get a photo of it, but he simply ran everything through, including the wort. I think his system had the most thought of cost-efficiency and compact design. He didn't have a false bottom either, it looked like a braided hose. Something to look into.

Easy as one two three
This setup was simply 2 coleman coolers and a keg kettle. The brewer of this was actually struggling the most, he had forgotten some of his materials that would have made his life easier.

The brew club these guys belong to looks like a great time. If I can get up and running I would certainly consider bringing my beer to the party.

12 May 2008

Hop Trellis is UP!!

This is so cool.
So, I am now a hop farmer. 11 out of 12 plants are above ground, ready to climb, baby, climb!!OK, so truth be told
I had next to nothing to do with constructing this thing of beauty. Sure, I planted the suckers, but the trellis was 100% my roommate. Dude put this up in one day. Thanks, Alex!!
He anchored the 8' 4x4 beams on cement blocks and buried them just under the surface of the soil. With the bottom board steadying the two from underneath, the adjustable eyehooks and wires at top really give the thing really sturdy construction. It's ready to support some bushy plants.

29 April 2008


This brew is based on last year's Angelsweat Wheat. It is a simple extract recipe that I had great success with during the time of Bay to Breakers last year. This time around, I decided to take something I liked a lot and take the chance of ruining it by adding fruit! Specifically blood oranges from Italy I picked up yesterday from Monterey Market in Bezerkeley. Go there if you haven't; it's an amazing place. I know, the one in the picture isn't all that blood-red, but trust me, it was super sweet and delicious.

The recipe:

7+ lbs. wheat/malt extract
1.25 oz. Hallertau upon boil
.5 oz. Saaz with 20 minutes left
Spoonful of Irish moss. It will still be hazy, I expect. Which is a good thing.
.5 oz. Saaz at the end of boil

While this is happening, I heated 1/2 gallon of water to 180 degrees with the zest and meat of 4 nice-sized blood oranges. Let that steep and cool.

At yeast-pitching time, I threw all of into my large carboy and let it all talk it over. It looks pretty fun, we'll see how my first fruity beer turns out.

I didn't take a hydrometer reading, seemed a little pointless with all that fruit.


I mess to impress.I got some new hoses to tighten up my wort-chilling process. It actually worked pretty well, and riding on that success I went on to try and poison everyone I know and love. See, I thought filling my carboy with a hose made a lot more sense than holding it under the awkward bathtub faucet. It worked well, but something didn't quite sit right with me. I hadn't sanitized the inside of the hose, and I didn't like the idea of the water touching all that rubber before touching my beer. As the water level in the carboy was happily rising, I took a peek at the label that had come with my new hose. It read:

WARNING: This hose contains chemicals, including lead, known to the state of California to cause cancer, birth defects and other reproductive harm. Do not drink water from this hose. Wash hands after use.

Heh. So I started over. There are some lessons I am very happy to have learned the easy way instead of the hard way.