Archived Posts from this Category

I Brew Beer – Liberty Bell Brown Ale

Posted by on 22 Oct 2010 | Tagged as: links, siebel

The Good Beer Seal just posted an article I wrote about how my Liberty Bell Brown Ale recipe has evolved. Here’s a preview, but click the link to read the whole thing.

Liberty Bell – American Brown Ale’s Different Leanings

Rock & Roll, Comedy, Brown Ale. The Brits often get there first, but America makes things taste better. For me brewing is about people, bringing people together and getting to know others. I like to brew beer that the drinker is going to enjoy, not just what I want to have, and doing that spurs a dialog with my friends and I come to understand their tastes better. There is a beer for everyone, even those that don’t drink alcohol. This story is about how one recipe reacted to life’s ever-changing demands and morphed 3 times to be the beer the drinker wanted.

Click here to read the whole story at the Good Beer Seal site.

Brew School Highlights Reel

Posted by on 14 Jul 2010 | Tagged as: looking back, siebel, video

I’ve been putting together a lot of different videos from brewing school to build a longer video telling the whole story. In the process however, I grabbed one of my favorite tracks from this year and put it as the soundtrack to a highlights reel.

Starring in no specific order…

Lyn, Eder, Roithmeier, Alejandro, Carlos, Rodrigo, Joseba, Zanello, Smith, Hoodie, Justin, Dykstra, Berzins, Hagerty, Mezzo Mixx, Me, Shawn, Garrettson, Ryan, Ryan, Skeeter, Ben, Adrian, Montana, Sean Nobles, Robben Salzburg, Tim Foley, Craig, Paul a.k.a. Saul Schiffman, Max, Connor and Breard. If you’re in video and I missed your name, let me know and I’ll correct the list. Also, same if I spelled your name wrong… my fault.

And now, I bring to you..

WBA Brew Crew 09

Something Went Wrong!

Stay tuned for the complete video.

Brewery Tour: Goose Island Production Facility

Posted by on 08 Jul 2010 | Tagged as: brewery tours, images, links, siebel, video

As part of the Siebel course we went on a tour of Goose Island’s production facility, which operates 24/7/365.  It’s an awesome operation, it looked like a lot of fun to work there, all the people were really cool.  They let us take pictures, so check out the gallery linked below.

Something Went Wrong!

In addition to the video above, you can Click Here to visit the Goose Island Photo Gallery.

They were great hosts.  Their barrel-aging program produces some amazing beers.  We were fortunate to get a taste of a very rare, never released beer that took a Silver at GABF that year: Red Woody.  If you’re ever in Chicago I recommend checking out their original brewpub location.  It’s across the street from Siebel Institute near the Clybourn & North stop on the red line.

The have enormous fermenters:

A bad ass looking centrifuge:

And of course a room that probably resembles heaven:

My boy Tim, in addition to some ridiculous red eye in this photo, has a sick 5-gallon system on which he conducts various brewing experiments.  Check out more of the photos in the gallery.

Goose Island Photo Gallery

World Brewing Academy Graduate

Posted by on 16 Dec 2009 | Tagged as: images, siebel

A little over a week ago I received my diploma from the World Brewing Academy.  The experience was incredible.  As valuable as the education are the friendships built over the course of several months.

Receiving my diploma from Eder

Receiving my diploma from Eder

With limited internet access it’s difficult to keep the site updated, but rest assured there are many photo sets that will be uploaded in the coming months, including the Goose Island production plant, barrels of alt aging at Uerige, perhaps the most beautiful brewhouse I’ve ever seen at Rothaus, and more.

Till then…

Upcoming European Tour

Posted by on 22 Nov 2009 | Tagged as: siebel

The WBA final was on Friday, been a long weekend of celebrating and getting ready for the beer tour.  We start the tour tomorrow and have an awesome trip ahead of us.  The itinerary goes like this.

Germany – Hopsteiner
Germany – Weyermann
Germany – Ziemann – Bauer
Germany – Uerige
Netherlands – Heineken Nederland B.V
Netherlands – La Trappe (Bierbrouwerij de Konigshoeven)
Netherlands – Bavaria N.V.
Belgium – Duvel Moortgat
Belgium – Cantillon
Belgium – Drie Fonteinen
Belgium – Achouffe
Luxembourg – Bofferding
Germany – KHS
Germany – Kieselmann
Germany – Rothaus
Austria – Mohrenbrauerei
Austria – Trumer Privatbrauerei
Austria – Stiegl Brauerei

Hops traders, maltsters, equipment manufacturers and some of the best breweries in the world.  It’s going to be a blast and this crew of guys is too much fun.   I’ve been overloaded here in München and haven’t been able to post, but when I get back I’ll be sure to start posting some of the images from the Goose Island production facility tour and as many of these European spots as I can.

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.