Projects and Thoughts

Brewery update, 2014 summary, 2015 goals.

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In my 2013 wrap up and goals referred this year to the year of calibration. I wanted to get down to brewing good beer, and I felt the best way to achieve that was to start by making sure everything that could be measured was. I think I’ve made great progress in this area. With my volume chart, I’ve found I have a much better grasp of pre/post boil volumes. I’m still struggling to work out my boil off and trube losses as it changes so much dependent on hopping losses. After brewing the same beer three times in a row, (Daisy Cutter 1, 2, 3) I learned a lot about the efficiency and consistency of my brewing process. I’d love to call it a system, but frankly I’m still working at being more consistent with it. I did do a great job of taking notes, and logging everything. So I consider this a did, but still room for improvement. I want to etch my brew kettle, but I only have a few limited things left to calibrate.

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12 Batches. I brewed 14 beers this year, 17 if you count split batches, and I still may brew again this year (I have the itch). Interestingly I brewed is a few spurts this year. 3 may beers, and 4 October beers, but a solid dry spell during mid summer. I’m pretty happy with the volume of beer I brewed this year, about 60 gallons (some batches were split). 8 batches were less than 4 gallon batches. I made 4 pales, 2 IPA’s, 2 brown ales, 2 berliner weisses, 2 saisons,  2 milds, and an imperial stout. I consider it a reasonably tight grouping of beer styles. This doesn’t even include cider or mead, which I decided to skip this year. I only had one real failure and that was my attempt at making a super low abv beer by boiling off the alcohol, which just resulted in terribly oxidized beer. It wasn’t too bad for beer bread, but not good for drinking. I even managed to take home some homebrew club bling, with a win with Mike for the dynamic duo competition. Done!

12-24 posts. 19 posts this year, not counting polls. Unlike my brewing I’d like to space these out a bit more. They were grouped around my busy brewing months, and had a similar drop off when I took time away. I’m pretty happy with the content of the blog this year, the brew day posts are long and dry, but I’m working on keeping only the good stuff, and better formatting what I do post, with my new templates. Please reach out to me if you have any feedback, or suggestions on content. Done.

Hone my hoppy Amarillo Wheat Recipe. Fail. I didn’t even attempt to brew this beer once. I have fallen out of love with this beer, perhaps it’ll take a trip to three floyds to rekindle my love of this style. Anyone want to send me a 6er of gumballhead to be sure? I just haven’t had enough luck with it to warrant further investment in the style. I might come back to it this year, but in the words of Mike Tonsmiere ‘Focus on a subset of beer styles’ and I’m not sure hoppy wheats is a style I am going to focus on. I suppose it’s a hoppy pale but… session pales have stolen my heart.

Read and review 12 books – 50% accomplished this goal. It was a noble goal. It prevented me from acquiring a great deal more books in 2014 that I would not read. I still have a list an arms length long to read, and will try to squeeze one more into 2014. I made progress on this early on, and it fell off my radar. Partial.

3.5 out of 5 ain’t bad. I’d like to believe I brewed better beer in 2014, than I did in 2013, I’ll consider this a successful year.

Goals for 2015.

Utilize current hop inventory. Time for some big, burly, hoppy beers. I’m also going to convert some cones to aged hops. I’ve also got far to many pellets to work through. If this means diverging from recipes to use what I have, I’ll make due. I can’t justify purchasing hops when I’ve got as much in the freezer as I do.

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Read all the books I didn’t finish in 2014. Goal is to read 9 books, and buy less than 3 new books. I think I can achieve that.

Plan my brewing schedule so that my beers are ready to drink in the proper season. IE have my berliners ready for spring / early summer, a stout ready for fall, and hoppy beers all the time.

My volume goals are the same as 2014. I found a happy medium of batches and posts, and a good production number. Frequency = familiarity = success. I found that I made the right amount of beer to share, and had enough to enjoy here, but not feel back logged. I would like to be more consistent blogging more brewing, but I have a lot of demands for my time.

Hone my Berliner Weisse recipe and technique. I brewed two this year, and fermented a third. I need to find a way to get the beer more tart. I also want to make more fruited Berliner Weisses. Maybe come up with a very non traditional combo once I have the sourness figured out.

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Evolve some ‘house’ cultures. I made good use of the yeasts I purchased this year, and grew up some dregs this year. I have also captured some local wild yeast. I’d like to work on a clean house yeast blend (1968, london dry & conan), a saison blend not 3711, and some mixed culture for souring berliners. Hopefully I won’t break the bank on yeast this year.

What are your successes from 2014, and what are you going to do better in 2015?

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