Posted by on 04 Sep 2009 | Tagged as: hops, looking back, video

In retrospect, I should have named this beer Double Nickels.

Something Went Wrong!

I was cleaning out the videos from my cell phone and found this old brew lying around. That’s a 7.5 gallon kettle with 6+ gallons of homebrew wort boiling on my apartment stove.

Jockey Box Success – Wedding Celebration

Posted by on 19 Aug 2009 | Tagged as: images, looking back

This past weekend a good friend of mine got married; he and his wife asked me to provide all the beer for the celebration.  Using a 3 tap jockey box we self-served 3 beers at the rehearsal dinner and had 3 different beers served by the caterers at the reception.  American Amber, Kölsch and a British Ale were served on Friday night, with German Lager, American Wheat and American Brown Ale being featured the next day. The beers were outdoors in the middle of a 90 degree day for hours, but cooling potential of the jockey box kept pace with the demand.

Self Service Beer – 2 Perlicks on either side of a Ventmatic
Self Service Beer

This was the largest party where my brew was the sole beer available, 120+ people.  It was the first time I was completely out of the picture when my beer was being served.  After setting up the jockey box and showering for the pictures, my boy and I looked out the window and saw the caterers had completely broken down the bar back we built and were moving my kegs and jockey box.  While crawling under the table in my brand new suit to figure out which beers were flowing on which taps for them, I gained a deeper appreciation for the need of a draught beer guide published by the Brewers Association.

All told, they did a great job.  We had two kegs of each beer so we set up the 3 beers on the porch where the reception was, and had the spare kegs down the hill in the tent for the dinner.  That way they only had to move the serving gear and the beers wouldn’t get shaken up carrying them back & forth.  One of the brown ale kegs was also overcarbonated, but I explained to the head caterer about leaving it off the gas until it wasn’t pouring anymore.  Then the carbonation level and pour came to a nice balance by the time the reception really got going.

Underneath the Table – “G” mix gas split by a 3-way manifold with inline QDs
Under the Table

The feedback I received was wonderful.  Comments were ranging from, “How do you get so much flavor in your beer?” to, “We live on California craft beer and we loved all the beers you had.”  All the kind words were a mighty ego boost, but I was especially proud of the stuff people were saying behind my back without having met me yet.  They aren’t just being polite to your face or falsely enthusiastic.  I met a couple people who are trying their hand at homebrewing.  We got to talking processes and I offered what I thought was some sage advice to hopefully help them improve their own brews.  My “coaching tree” continues to expand.

Display & Signage – Three Kings Kölsch example pour & wedding themed labels
Three Kings

One thing that made this such a great success was preparation.  I brought spare parts for everything; I’m not sure how a faucet would actually break, but I still had spare faucets.  Leak detector was a clutch item to bring along, my gas manifold had a leak despite testing prior to packing the car.  With leak detector I found and fixed the issue in about 5 minutes with a fresh wrapping of teflon tape.  Like with athletics, visualization before the event allows you to anticipate problems and prepare yourself to deal with them.

Triple Coil – 3 Stainless Steel 120′ Coils in a 100 quart cooler – each holds ~1/2 gallon
Triple Coil

I should have more photos later, but these are all I got on my own camera.  I shot these the morning after the rehearsal dinner while the jockey box was still set up from the night before.  People were able to self-serve all night and even for a little hair-of-the-dog until we moved the jockey box after lunch.

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.

Growing Hops

Posted by on 09 Apr 2009 | Tagged as: hops, images

I have begun an experiment in apartment hops growing.  In New York land is hard to come by, so I am growing a single rhizome of Centennial hops in a planter in a window of a 4th floor walk-up.  It’s an East facing window, with a 27″ x 12″ planter.  The hops were planted a couple weeks ago and have been showing some nice growth so far.  Here are a couple of images taken recently.

Full Moon Hops

Full Moon Hops

Springtime Hops

springtime hops

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.

Banner Foam

Posted by on 10 Nov 2008 | Tagged as: video

Krausen as it bubbles while rising and falling in real time.

Something Went Wrong!

You may look at the banner image on this blog and think it is a close up of the head on a freshly pulled pint. It is not. Instead it is the krausen formed on top of beer as it ferments. Brewers know these krausens come in all shapes and behaviors, but this yeast strain made a particularly attractive foamy head.

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