Archived Posts from this Category

Diesel on your Headphones

Posted by on 27 Feb 2010 | Tagged as: links

On Tuesday @ 5pm I will be on the new radio show Beer Sessions.  Jimmy Carbone, owner of Jimmy’s No. 43 in the East Village, will be hosting the show.  Ray Deter of d.b.a. and Justin Phillips of Beer Table will be there as well.  I got a slew of links at the bottom of this post, so check ’em out.  I believe you can listen live, but also certainly download the podcast afterwards.

We are going to be talking about all things craft beer!  I will be bringing a liter of Happy Ending from Sweetwater in ATL for us to sample.  Big ups to my boy Smith for hookin’ me up with the bottle, Sweetwater needs to get some distro up in NY for their wonderful brews!

Beer Sessions on Heritage Radio Network

Jimmy’s No. 43


Beer Table


Diesel Drafts Gallery – Now Live

Posted by on 21 Dec 2009 | Tagged as: images, links

I just launched the Diesel Drafts Gallery.  You can access it from the landing page of this site, or also by clicking

I have many images and galleries still to post, but there are already a couple up there for your browsing.

Pro Books 4 Home Brewers – MBAA Practical Handbooks

Posted by on 04 Oct 2009 | Tagged as: books, links, siebel

In preparing for Siebel I tore through some professional level texts. A couple weeks ago a friend of mine asked if what I was reading would be a good gift for his father, who is a homebrewer and has a birthday coming up. I figured I’d post this review of the MBAA Practical Handbooks for the Specialty Brewer.  The books can be ordered by clicking here.

I do think that these books have much to offer the serious home brewer, but there is also quite a bit of content that is essentially meaningless in the homebrew setting as well. I don’t think you need the whole set, more on that below, but my assumption in suggesting these books to a home brewer is that they already have in their collection a bunch of the standard homebrew texts. (I won’t list them all here, but I mean the books you can find at almost every local or online homebrew shop.) That is to say, this book shouldn’t be your first or second book, but it probably works as a good third.

The MBAA Practical Handbooks for the Specialty Brewer are a 3 volume set.  The first deals with Raw Materials and Brewhouse Operations, the second with Fermenation, Cellaring and Packaging Operations, and the third with Brewing Engineering and Plant Operations.  The books are laid out in a Question & Answer format, so they essentially read like the teacher’s answer book for a comprehensive short essay test on brewing.  If you’ve read the classic “learn to brew” texts, then this is like getting the answer key for the final of a semester class on brewing, except it is way more in depth than any of the homebrew texts available.  This depth however does not place the material out-of-reach of the homebrewer.  It’s in short answer essay form, and the writing and editing are done in such a way that the material doesn’t require much background information.

While reading the first volume of these  books I thought to myself, I wish I had read these years ago.  I have been pretty hard core with the brewing material I have read in the past, so much of the material was review for me.  Still, it’s presentation made many things clearer to me.  For the homebrewer, I’d recommend Volume 1 for sure, and while half of Volume 2 might be about specifics for commercial brewing, the first 135 page chapter on Fermentation & Cellaring by Daniel Carey and Ken Grossman might make it worth the money to a serious homebrewer as well.  Volume 3 probably has only one chapter that is of interest to home brewer, and that is the chapter on Draft Dispense.  While that section is very useful for people who keg and build their own home draft systems, I find it hard to recommend a 178 page book for 45 pages of relevant material.

Volume 1 is almost completely applicable to homebrewing.  Sure, you’re never going to pelletize hops or work for a maltster.  The understanding of how your raw materials are produced however will lead to a better understanding of how to use them in the production of wort.  One reason I feel so strongly about the value of this volume is that homebrewers often are weaker in their understanding of malt & malting than other parts of the brewing process.  In beer production, barley is really the raw material, but as brewers we often pay someone else to do the first step of beer production which is malting.  Barley and malt take up two chapters and 60 pages of this volume.  That combined with a 35-page chapter on Hops and a 50-page chapter Wort Production through mashing, separation, boiling and chilling form the core of this volume.  There are a couple toss away chapters on Water and Adjuncts, but there are other places that homebrewers have already found better and more applicable information on those subjects.

When people find out I make beer, I sometimes quip that I make sweet tea and the yeast make beer.  That’s part of what makes the first volume so valuable, even though it is describing commercial practices that the homebrewer will never use, those practices are used to create the products that homebrewers use as their raw materials to make their sweet teas.  Despite the fact that its the yeast that make the beer, fermentation control is essential in the production of good beer.  This makes the second volume of this set valuable to homebrewers although half of it may not be applicable to their processes.

Volume 2 is about half applicable to homebrewing, but since the subject is fermentation and cellaring for the most part, it is highly valuable material.  The first chapter, about half of the book, is an in depth look at fermentation and conditioning processes.  Sometimes they go deep on a subject that isn’t useful for homebrewers like 7 pages on how to design a beer cellar from flooring to lighting to ducting.  But the discussions of yeast functions, traditional lager & ale production methods, propagation procedures and the like I believe are useful to brewers of all stripes.  The chapters on Clarification & Filtration and Bottling are essentially non-applicable to homebrewing, and the Lab Methods chapter is either review or better covered for the home setting elsewhere.  The Racking chapter is at least very interesting to beer enthusiasts as you’ll know everything there is to know about the different kegs you’ll find in America (except for dispensing which is covered in the third volume).

Volume 3 is basically irrelevant to homebrewing.  The only chapter that would really be of interest is the 45 page section on Draft Dispense.  It covers everything from construction of insulated python hoses containing several beer runs and glycol cooling lines to proper technique for drawing a beer from the faucet.  If you’re interested in this material, one place to start is the Draught Beer Quality Manual which is provided online for free from the Brewers Association.  Other chapters include Plant Engineering, Plant Sanitation, Environmental Engineering, Safety Operations.  They are all related to commercial equipment that for the most part have no relevance in the home setting.  Even the Draft Dispense chapter isn’t wholly applicable to home draft setups, but a complete understanding of that leads to better drafts operations no matter your setup.

So my final recommendation to homebrewers would be that the first volume at $50 is a good purchase if you’re serious about getting to know your raw materials and how to use them.  It’s harder to justify another 50 bucks for the second volume since much less of the text is relevant, however it is 135 pages of Ken Grossman and Daniel Carey talking about fermentation and cellaring.  The third volume is really not worth the money unless you plan on buying both the first two volumes, then maybe you want to drop an extra $20 for the chapter on draft dispense if you want to know all the essential information used in the industry for pouring beer.

Touring Briess

Posted by on 26 Sep 2009 | Tagged as: images, links, siebel

On Monday we hopped a bus to Chilton, WI for a private tour of Briess Malting.  They don’t have public tours available, but their website is pretty awesome in terms of an online tour (see link below).  A full tour of the Chilton Malthouse was fantastic, it was a lot of fun sticking my head into their steeping tanks, playing with germinating malt in my hands, and watching how they bag the final product.  There is something very calming about the germinating rooms, it’s a nice cool temperature, there are these long tubs of moist barley in its early growth phase.  I wanted to lay down and take a nap in a bed of grain.  The lab was also pretty sweet, it’s bigger than my apartment and has all sorts of fun toys.

The folks at Briess are all very cool.  Midwestern accents are kind of funny, but the people are chill.  Due to issues with proprietary processes and the like, they don’t let folks take photos inside the malt house, so all I have this is shot of the front of the corporate headquarters.  They do have some photos on their site, including one of the basement of the malthouse with the ancient wooden supports for the entire building.  It’s amazing that this malthouse was built over a century ago and is still operating as a modern specialty maltster.

Briess HQ

We spent quite a bit of time discussing how to use their products from their specialty malts to extracts.  Like I said already, these people are cool and their passion for helping people produce good beer really comes across when you’re chatting with them about their products. We spent almost an hour just tasting various beers and discussing how the specialty malts were used to achieve some of the flavors in them.  They have a 500 barrel brewhouse and can give some great insight into recipe formulation.

Visit their website and checkout their tour, I really like their site:

Off to Siebel

Posted by on 22 Jul 2009 | Tagged as: links, siebel

In September I’m heading to the Siebel Institute for the World Brewing Academy International Diploma in Brewing Technology program.  7 weeks in Chicago, 3 weeks in Munich, 2 weeks touring various breweries in Europe.  Should be a blast!  Chicago looks like a gorgeous city, but I’ve only been to the O’Hare part for layovers.  It seems like they have a ton of park space and jogging routes that are filled with beauty.

We head to Doemens Academy in Munich after the ‘fest cleanup, which is probably a great time to go study since they’ll have work to do but the city will be laid back after partying so hard, especially hotels should be cheap.  I find it risible that I’m doing a European beer tour in late Fall two years in a row after having never been to the continent; am I ever going to see Europe in Summer?

If you have any “must do” tips for either ChiTown or Bavaria, let me know.  I hope to take full advantage of my time in parts of the world that I’ve not had a chance to experience.  Catching the Cubbies at Wrigley Field is at the top of my list.  Soldier Field for a Bears game is a close second.  I’m a giant pizza snob, and NY/NE pizza is the only *real* pizza; but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying the pizza casserole known as Chicago-Style.  I hope to become a snob in said style by the end of my time there.

My homebrewpub is in good hands as my assistant brewer, Goose, is going to keep it brewing while I go study.  Many thanks to my friends and family who have encouraged and assisted me to pursue my dreams.

Draught Beer Quality Manual

Posted by on 17 Jun 2009 | Tagged as: links

The Brewers Association recently sent a copy of the Draught Beer Quality Manual to all its members.  They have also launched a site for it where you can download a PDF copy for free or browse a web version.  It’s over 50 pages covering subjects from the components of long draw systems to jockey boxes, 6 pages dedicated to balance, a couple chapters on pouring beer, and of course a large chapter on cleaning & maintenance.  It’s a really nice glossy manual, many thanks to the Brewers Association for sending that out.

Click here to visit the online home of draught quality.

Diesel Drafts Forums

Posted by on 30 Mar 2009 | Tagged as: links, spreadsheet

I’ve been getting a lot of feedback in the week since I launched the spreadsheet, and some feature requests.  In order to make it easier for people to discuss the spreadsheet, and share recipes I put up a forum. is where you can go to ask questions about how to the use the spreadsheet, report any issues you have, request new features and discuss the development of upcoming features.

Discussion of the development will take place in the forums, so check in and let me know if you have any changes you want to see implemented in the spreadsheet.

Diesel’s Brewing Spreadsheet

Posted by on 25 Mar 2009 | Tagged as: links, spreadsheet

Diesel’s Brewing Spreadsheet is now available for public use.

A full guide and download are available at

The feature set includes:

  • Worksheet – The soul of the spreadsheet, were the main action goes down.

o Batch Size is set by desired packaged volume of beer. Includes adjustments for post fermentation trub & transfer losses, kettle transfer losses, wort contraction, hops absorption, boil off rate, grain absorption, lauter tun dead space, and kettle dead space
o Mashing modes include Infusion, Decoction and Direct Heat. Predicts strike water volume & gravity, decoction or additional infusion volumes, mash out and sparge volumes. An indicator of total tun space required is given.
o Grains are selected in a dropdown that is based upon the Grains tab, all attributes of the grains are pulled from there.
o MCU, SRM, GU, Adjusted GU (based on mash efficiency), Weighted Adjusted GU (if extract is added late) are all calculated based on the weight of the grain and it’s properties on the grains tab. Extract GU Factor for weighting late additions to boil gravity is user configurable.
o Hops are selected in a dropdown that is based upon the Hops tab, all attributes of the hops are pulled from there. AA% percentage can be calculated based on hops purchase date, storage method and storage temperature.
o Utilization can be based on either Rager or Tinseth. FWH, leaf and pellet factors are user configurable. Boil gravity is the average of pre-boil and post-boil gravities.
o Yeast are selected in a dropdown that is based upon the Yeast tab, all attributes except for inventory are kept on the Yeast tab.
o Required Cell Count depends on the user configurable ale & lager factors and whether the recipe is set as an ale or lager as well as volume & gravity. Pitch volume depends on the type of yeast preparation and its cell concentration on the Tables tab.
o Pressure & Priming Sugar are shown for desired level of carbonation. User must set serving temp and choose sugar type (pulled from a select set of entries on the Grains tab). Beer temperature is assumed to be the warmest the beer was during fermentation.
o OG & FG in specific gravity and plato, ABV%, IBU, SRM, CO2, BUGU & BV are calculated for predicted and measured values and are comparable to two styles in a table.  Measurements can be entered in either Specific Gravity or Plato.  Styles can be from either BJCP or Brewers Association Guidelines.
o Mash Water Adjustments are based on the concept of residual alkalinity and John Palmer’s work. Predictions for adjusting pH, adding enough calcium and magnesium and achieving desired chloride to sulfate ratios are included. City or target profiles may be referenced in the table.
o Water attributes used in water calculation are pulled from the Water tab.
o Parti-gyle brewing mode will split the GU between the beers from the mash. The second beer’s pre-boil volume is determined by the first beer’s pre-boil volume & the parti-gyle ratio. Extracts and other ingredients added are specific to each beer, only mashed grains are split.
o Macro buttons are available to: Export the Worksheet to the Recipes file as a new tab or to overwrite an existing tab, Export the Recipe to a file for Sharing, Archive the Worksheet to a JPEG file, Add the grains, hops and yeast in the recipe which are not currently in stock to the Purchasing tab, Subtract the grains, hops and yeast in the recipe from the inventories on the Grains, Hops and Lab tabs, Toggle the Gravity Mode between Plato & SG, Reset the Worksheet to a clean starting position.
o Ample room for note taking.

  • Calculators – A collection of calculators useful in a brewing operation

o Temperature, Volume, Mass & Pressure conversions
o Specific Gravity to Plato & the other way around
o Refractometer Correction based on starting & ending readings, calibration available with reference to a hydrometer
o Hydrometer temperature correction
o White Labs to Wyeast converter & vice versa
o Yeast Pitching Rate Calculator
o Yeast Propagation Calculator
o Weight of the Volume of a Liquid based on Gravity
o Beer Properties based on OG & FG: AA, RA, RE, ABV, ABW, Calories
o Beer Properties based on FG from Hydrometer & Refractomer: OG in Plato & SG, RE, ABV, ABW, Calories
o Hops Aging calculator for current AA%
o AAUs to Ounces
o IBU or Ounces based on the other
o % Lost based on Hops Stability Index
o Boiloff Rate
o Area & Perimeter: Rectangle, Circle, Triangle
o Surface Area & Volume: Rectangular Prism, Sphere, Cylinder, Cone, Dome, Pyramids 3 & 4 sided
o Unit prefix converter
o Grain color converter: EBC (old & new), ASBC/SRM, IOB
o Grain to Extract and Extract Equivalents
o Water Chemistry a la John Palmer
o Efficiency based on grains and measured gravities & volumes
o Efficiency based on measured gravities & volumes and inputted potential GU
o Recipe Scaling based on pounds or percentages, ounces or IBU
o Carbonation & Priming
o Electrical Heating
o Predicting BU required based on gravities and desired BU:GU or BV
o Mash Tun Space Required in metric or English
o Parti-gyle Adjustments to correct the first beer if it is off

  • Calendar – great for planning a brewing schedule

o Calendar Display is set by choosing Month & Year
o Up to 7 brews can be displayed at one time, the Worksheet is always displayed
o Macro button will update calendar data from Recipes file
o User can select up to 6 recipes from the Recipes file to display in the calendar
o Calendar shows brew date, primary time, diacetyl rest, cold crash, conditioning and aging times and tap date

  • Grains – inventory and grain attributes are stored here

o Malt Name
o Maltster
o Country of Origin
o Color (ASBC/SRM)
o Dry Yield
o Potential (calculated based on dry yield)
o Stock in pounds
o Price per pound
o Notes
o Priming Factor used for priming sugars
o Link to store for purchase
o All the above can be filtered

  • Hops – inventory and hops attributes are stored here

o Hop Type
o Alpha Acid %
o Description
o Commonly used in styles
o Possible Substitutions
o Usage as aroma, bittering or dual purpose
o Stock in ounces
o Form as pellet or leaf
o Price per ounce
o % Lost
o Date of Purchase
o Link to Purchase
o All the above can be filtered

  • Yeast – Yeast attributes are stored here

o Yeast Strain
o Yeast Name
o Low Fermentation Temp
o High Fermentation Temp
o Low Attenuation
o High Attenuation
o Flocculation
o Alcohol Tolerance
o Manufacturer’s Description & Notes
o Original Brewery
o Wyeast, White Labs Counterpart
o Price per package
o All of the above can be filtered

  • Lab – Inventory of yeast cultures & lab equipment

o Yeast Strain
o Generation
o Parent
o Date
o Storage
o Quantity
o Unique ID
o All the above can be sorted

o Equipment, Notes & Quantity

  • Water – Brewery’s water profile here is used for Worksheet

o Brewing Cities’ water profiles for reference
o Alkalinity
o Hardness
o Calcium
o Chloride
o Chlorine
o Magnesium
o Sodium
o Potassium
o Iron
o Manganese
o Sulfate
o pH
o Bicarbonate

  • Styles – Based on the BJCP 2008 Style Guidelines, data is used for reference in Worksheet

o Style Name
o Link to BJCP & Style #
o OG range in SG
o FG range in SG
o OG range in Plato
o FG range in Plato
o ABV% range
o IBU range
o SRM range
o CO2 Volumes range
o BUGU average
o BV average

  • CO2 – a wide range chart

o Increments in variables are 0.1 CO2 volumes & 1 degree Fahrenheit
o Ranges are 32 to 80 degrees and 0.5 to 5 volumes
o Prints well onto 1 sheet if you have a color printer

  • Tables – various reference tables used in Worksheet calculations

o Yeast Starter Size – based on Jamil’s chart in Brewing Classic Styles but this method of starter prediction is no longer used.
o Yeast Source & Concentration
o Chloride/Sulfate Balance for water calculations
o Hops Storage Factors for hops aging calculations
o Hops Aging Temperature Factors
o Hops rate k constant based on percent lost
o Approximate % Lost based on hops variety
o Sizing Wire & Breakers for reference
o SRM to RGB for reference
o SRM to hexadecimal for reference
o Hydrometer CF for reference
o CO2 Volumes is residual CO2 in fermented beer

  • Formulas – a reference of formulas used
  • Brewhouse – inventory for the brewhouse
  • Brewpub – inventory for the brewpub
  • Packaging – inventory for packaging beer & keg tracking
  • Library – inventory of the library
  • Recipes – a tab for jotting down in plain text recipes as you receive them

o Includes a link to launch the external Recipes file

  • Purchasing – a financial sheet for planning purchases

o Item, Price, Quantity, Total, Link, Notes and Category can all be filtered
o Total Cost of sheet is calculated
o Categorized costs shown are: equipment, hops, yeast, grain, books, glassware, artwork, memberships, shipping and uncategorized in case something is missing a category
o Priority Purchasing total depends on the total price being bolded
o Next Batch costs requires the total price to be italicized
o Includes a mcmaster partnum link for planning mcmaster purchases
o Macro button will move selected items to Financial tab when they are purchased

  • Financial – a financial sheet for tracking and analyzing purchasing history

o Item, Price, Quantity, Total, Link, Notes, Category and Date can all be filtered
o Total Cost of sheet is calculated
o Categorized costs shown are: equipment, hops, grains, yeast, other ingredients, ingredients combined, books, glassware, artwork, equipment & assests combined, memberships, chemicals, shipping annual average, batch average, unreceived orders and uncategorized
o Items not yet received are italicized when moved from the Purchasing tab.
o Macro button will mark items received and add them to the inventory if they are hops, grains or yeast

  • Notepad – a plain text sheet for keeping random notes

Beer Wars – Brewed in America

Posted by on 28 Feb 2009 | Tagged as: links, video

This movie premiere is going to be a live event in theaters around the country on April 16th. Director Anat Baron takes you on a no holds barred exploration of the U.S. beer industry that ultimately reveals the truth behind the label of your favorite beer. Told from an insider’s perspective, the film goes behind the scenes of the daily battles and all out wars that dominate one of America’s favorite industries.

Watch the trailer below and visit the website to find a theater new you that will be showing Beer Wars and purchase tickets.

The two main subjects are Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head and Rhonda Kallman of New Century Brewing (and also co-founder of Boston Beer).

Interview subjects are:

  • David Rehr President, National Beer Wholesalers Association
  • Jeff Becker President, Beer Institute
  • Maureen Ogle Author, “Ambitious Brew”
  • Todd Alstrom Founder,
  • Michael Jackson Author, Beer Expert
  • Benj Steinman Publisher, Beer Marketer’ Insights
  • Bob Lachky Executive Vice President, Anheuser-Busch
  • Norman Adami CEO, Miller Brewing Company
  • Frits van Paasschen CEO, Coors Brewing Company
  • Dick Yuengling Fifth Generation Owner, Yuengling
  • Charlie Papazian President, Brewers Association
  • Jim Koch Founder, Boston Beer Company
  • Kim Jordan Founder, New Belgium Brewing Company
  • Greg Koch Founder, Stone Brewing Company
  • Dewey Parsons Owner, Downtown Wine & Spirits
  • Jim Shpall Owner, Applejack Liquors
  • Steve Hoch, Phd. Professor, Wharton Business School
  • Carol Stoudt Founder, Stoudt Brewing Company
  • Garrett Oliver Brewer, Brooklyn Brewery
  • John Bryant Vice President, Odell Brewing
  • John Serbia Vice President, Brewing, Anheuser-Busch
  • Marc Sorini Attorney, McDermott Will & Emory
  • Simon Bergson Owner, Manhattan Beer Company
  • Chris O’Brien Author, “Fermenting Revolution”
  • Roberta Baskin Center for Public Integrity
  • Peter DeFazio Congressman (D-Oregon)
  • George Hacker Center for Science in the Public Interest

Seasonal Beer Database

Posted by on 16 Nov 2008 | Tagged as: links

The Brewer’s Association has created a database of seasonal beers that you can search by state availability. Very useful for finding what’s available in your area and discovering new seasonals to try.

« Previous Page