Using Beersmith to Make labels and custom brewing sheets

I’m a tech geek this is not a surprise to any of you, recently I decided I wanted to take advantage of BeerSmith* to automate some repetitive tasks. Not that it hasn’t been helpful for designing recipes, logging my brewing, etc. However, I’ve been hand writing out brew day todo lists since I started brewing. At first just it was a list of things to get and high level instructions. But it’s evolved into a detailed process for ever step, with timings and measurements. I’d also take notes on the sheets and plug it back into beersmith. Eventually I’d use those notes to write up brewing logs. Before the next brew day, I’d recycle the last plan for the next next batch. It’s has been effective at evolving my process, but it’s also time consuming manual process. I decided I wanted to automate it. Continue reading

If I had it all to do over again… How I recomend getting started brewing.

Hindsight . As a homebrewer you are often asked about starting out, what’s the best kit to get, what recipe to use, what did you do etc. I’m doing this for Learn to homebrew day, I’ve greatly benefited by those in the community willing to share a recipe, tip, DIY plan, etc. Here is I’d do if I were to do it over again.

IMG 2068

Read, but don’t obsess. You aren’t going to brew a perfect beer the first time, and there is only so much you can do with your first batch. Pick a book, and read it. The two most common are How to brew by John Palmer And The Complete Joy of Home brewing – Charlie Papazian. They are different takes on brewing, read a few pages from amazon, and pick the one that suits your style, and read it. I read and read and read, and listened until I was filled with crazy ideas, and worried about doing it perfect. I didn’t understand what I was reading. Just pick a book, read it, and get a bad first draft done.
Continue reading

Fall is the Saison Season

Saison is a style I feel a closeness to, I’m a small farmer and french Canadian by heritage. The idea of making an artisanal product with a raw edge, using my own hops, and rustic grain just moves me. This recipe is a simple table saison, something I think the farm hands may have enjoyed during the long work days. I found the recipe on beersmithrecipes.com via Nathan Smith. He’s a staple on the brewing network, has presented at NHC, ANHC, Beersmith, and Basic brewing radio. He’s even given talk on Saisons. Continue reading

Imperial IPA II

After having a few of Mike’s latest hoppy beer, pliny light, I had to brew another imperial IPA. My first attempt was ok, but was pretty sweet, higher abv, and darker than it’s inspiration (heady topper). My goal is to get this one to dry out, have a lighter finish, less fruity, more dank, more grapefruit hop profile. When reworking this recipe, I referenced the same sources I hit up the first time. Continue reading

Bitter again.

I took a few months off from brewing this summer to travel, and work my way through some of my homebrew back log. With any layoff it takes a bit of motivation to get started again. It’s not that I don’t want to brew, it’s just that life is busy these days. I figured my first batch back I should make something I’m comfortable with, so I made my third batch of bitter american clone. If you recall this was the first all grain beer I brewed and I brewed a second larger batch focusing on local ingredients for my club to bring to NHC back in 2013. I’m familiar with the recipe, and have mixed results with it, I have not brewed it enough to have it mastered. The original recipe came from a brew your own article on canned craft beers. When planning to brew this, I focused on using the ingredients i had on hand. I’ve got an over stocked freezer full of hops, and a cellar full of grain just waiting for me to brew. Somewhere along the way, I neglected to reference the original recipe and just used pearl malt instead of the recipe’s golden promise which I do have on hand. These two malts are similar, but from reading comparisons, http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f12/2-row-vs-maris-otter-vs-golden-promise-vs-halcyon-vs-pearl-vs-optic-439642/ they aren’t the same. I’m wondering how big of a mistake this is. The other shift in recipe was to swap out the warrior bittering hops for citra. I’m not sure why I haven’t bought more Warrior, I liked it in the alpha king clone, but more high alpha hops won’t be added to my freezer any time soon. Continue reading

Plan C, batch number three of the Daisy cutter clone.

The third batch of the Daisy cutter came hot on the heels of batch #2, brewed just one week later. One might think it’s boring brewing the same beer over again, but I’ve found it’s the opposite. The challenge of trying to get repeatability and predictability and improvement from my brewing system is thrilling. Brewing batch two showed me more things that I needed to work on with my process. These are the nuances that I’d otherwise not pick up by brewing a new recipe each time. I’m seeing parts of my process that have been close enough, but that doesn’t cut it when you are trying to hit the same numbers again. One that caught my attention in the second batch was volume measurements of strike, sparge, runoff, and pre and post boil. I’ve jumped around between different brewing vessels so much, that it’s hard to remember which measurement is what volume in a specific pot. Before brewing batch 3 I took some measurements so I knew how much volume my total run off should be, and what my post boil volume should also be. With these measurement and my gravity notes, I’ll be able to tell and tune my efficiency going forward. I feel like I’m slowly working out small process issues, as well as incrementally improve the recipe. Continue reading

Taking a second chop at the daisy cutter.

A month after my first attempt at brewing a daisy cutter clone I brewed this recipe. My first brew session wasn’t the smoothest, but I did hit my numbers and volume, so it wasn’t all bad. The beer isn’t bad either but It’s a work in progress. I gave a few bottles to friends, and I’m looking forward to some constructive feedback. The aroma was nice, but not what I wanted. The color is good, but darker than the original. The residual sweetness is good, it seems clean, dry, but does not have nearly enough hop flavor. The aroma is also too candy like. With that in mind, along with my first batch missteps, I had some process changes and recipe changes in mind. Continue reading

Milling Table build.

IMG 2676

When Mike told me about his mill table, I thought it was neat but I dismissed the idea of making one myself. While visiting another brewer friend I saw his mill, and asked if he would mind sharing some details of the project. As I’ve found with most home brewers he was very willing to share details and helpful links. At both times it didn’t seem necessary at that time. Then I used mike’s mill at the bow bog brewing party and really liked how it worked. It was very nice to be able to just dump in the grain and crank it up. Not that hand cranking is difficult, but it would save me a little time and manual labor.  Once I took inventory of the required parts, I realized that I could build this with minimal investment. I had the mill, a motor and I had a shelving unit I could use as the stand. It appeared all I was going to need to buy would be some sheaves (pulleys), a belt, a shim, and some miscellaneous hardware and lumber.
Continue reading