Hey guys,

I’ve gotten on the train of browsing the reddit homebrew subreddit.  There is a new thread that promotes a monthly group brew.  This month the three brewing options were brewing a dunkelweizen, a saison or a german lager.

Since my apartment is still very cool at this of year(around 60 ambient) the saison was out of the question (this needs a much warmer environment).   And a proper lager would put my kegerator out of commission for months (no strict fermentation vessel at this point).     I decided to brew the dunkelweizen.

Brewed it two weeks ago and its coming along well.  Didn’t put any dark malts in the beer so it might be closer to a hefe but I’m ok with that.  I put it in a swamp cooler which kept the ambient around 60 for the duration of the brew.  Used yeast stain WLP 380 (hefeweizen 4).  Initial tests are positive and just need to free up some keg space so I have somewhere to put it.

Currently Kegged:

  • Double ipa
  • Nelson Sauvin and Maris Otter SMaSH
  • Black Irish Ale
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From Belgium, with love, or, the tripel I was looking for.

Confession (which wasn’t much of a secret):  I used to hate Belgian beer.  I try to not discredit beers from the get go without trying them but I had a serious problem with all  the Belgian beers I’d tried, the yeast’s esters would throw me into a tizzy.


Not long after I started brewing I knew that I had to master Belgian beer, so what do you do… try everything, I picked up saisons, strong ales, pale ales and nothing stuck.  I thought about giving up on our Flemish friends’ beer, but, then I tried Rodenbach Grand Cru (a flanders red ale), and things changed.

If you haven’t had the luxury of trying a Flanders red ale, their isn’t much in the beer world to compare it two; some common flavor profiles would be a mixture of sour apple, balsamic vinegar and dry champagne.  It flipped my thinking of what the Belgians were doing and needed to have more.  I did some research and found the “sour beer” beer style; these crafty Belgians have been brewing beer with non-traditional yeasts and bacteria for years (though, they had no idea it was happening).  Some examples would be the aforementioned Flanders red, its brother from another mother, the Flanders brown (or Oud Bruin), lambics (and older brother gueze) and a myriad of other  beers mixed with the bacteria.

Oddly, learning about the sour ales, made me realize most of these beers started out as simple beers such as a saison or strong ale that I had once scorned.  Mentally the switch had been flipped.

Fast forward 2 years to right now and of the previous 7 beers I’ve made, 5 have been belgian heavy.

  • Tripel
  • Saison
  • Patesrbier (belgian table beer)
  • Winter warmer (via saison yeast)
  • Belgian Dark Strong ale

Most recent beer on the list was the simplest Tripel you could think of:

14 lbs Belgian Pilsner

.5 lb Belgian Aromatic Malts

Tettnang – 2.50 oz.@ 90 mins

Saaz 1.00 oz @ 10 mins

Long term mash at 156.

Used the Patersbier as a starter for WLP 530 (my preference for abbey yeasts), washed a good bit of the yeast and pitched.

Brewed on 1/12/2013

1/19/2013, gravity is at 1.010.  Flavor is fantastic, grassy/floral with a great spicy yeast flavor.

Planning on adding medium toast french oak chips soaked in pinot grigio along with brett b in 3 or 4 days when gravity stable, I don’t think this will drop much lower than 1.010, placed fermenter next to radiator to help with fermentation.

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Brewed this weekend

Found a little bit of time to brew this weekend.  Had two projects I wanted to work on:

The first was an attempt to clear my freezer from the massive amount of hops I’d been stockpiling so I brewed a pretty simple (or it should have been simple) Imperial IPA.  I put all the inputs into beer smith but I found that my water additions were low after the sparge.  I had to adjust on the fly and my efficiency suffered because of it; after additions of corn sugar to adjust the gravity I started off with an OG of 1.073

Number two was a beer I had been planning on making for the past couple of months, it was my belgian dark strong ale (BDSA).  To prepare for this I made a belgian witte with the WLP 500 yeast (the chimay strain) as a starter, the witte turned out pretty good and I was able to wash and re-use the yeast to pitch for the BDSA.  The brew day it-self went pretty good, didn’t get as much boil-off as I usually do for a 90 minute boil so the gravity was a shade lower but efficiency was pretty good for a large grain bill.  OG 1.080

Also tossed some oak chips soaked in bourbon in my russian imperial stout, should be ready move to secondary in a week or so.

I did get to go to Great Lakes Brewing this weekend and unbeknownst to us it was their Oktoberfest (I could tell by the amount of lederhosen I saw).  While I’m there I always try their pub only beers so I went with their Imperial Dortmunder (kinda a gimmick style) which it was pretty good, nothing super special IMO and their Shift Beer which was a good American IPA with a strong simcoe presence.

Good Times,


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My name is Patrick and I’ve been brewing

Hello all,

Been a little while since I did this whole blog thing.  Been brewing a good amount of beer the past couple (or six) months.  Though I might give an update.

I brewed quite a few beers of varying deliciousness in my hibernation, an abbreviated list would look something like:

  • Hefeweizen
  • Simcoe IPA
  • Belgian PA w/ Brett
  • Pumpkin Milk Stout
  • Pumpkin Ale
  • Cascade Pale Ale
  • ESB
  • Dusseldorf Altbier
  • Dry Stout
  • Session Saison
  • Berliner Weisse (still conditioning)
  • Russian Imperial Stout
  • Trappist Wheat
  • German Strawberry Wheat

I believe that is a pretty complete list.  Couple of beers didn’t turn out well but most were very good, which helps since I don’t buy beer anymore.  Speaking of that, I’ve been pretty good on living on my own beer.  My growler collection is growing by the week (easily the best way to transport from the keezer) and I usually have a pretty consistent amount of beers coming/going.  My tally of beers purchased from stores is somewhere around 50 for the year (approx 5 per month).

Oh, I built a kegerator from a chest freezer (thus, keezer).  Pretty good investment if you hate bottling as much as I do.   All you need to do is put together a collar and slap a couple coats of chalkboard paint on and viola, you’ve got fresh draft beer all day.  I’ll put up a post on how I assembled it in a later post all you need to know is that, yes, that is the Cleveland Browns schedule.

Well, currently I’ve got two big projects beer wise.  The first is my russian imperial stout that I brewed two weeks ago (which I’m calling the Engagement-ale due my recent engagement to Annie).  The OG on the stout was 1.110 and as of one week ago the gravity was near 1.020 (which puts it about around 12% abv).  It was quite a bear to brew and, as expected, my efficiency took a hit but its tasting amazing right now.

Next project is the  Belgian Dark Strong Ale, made a 5 gallon batch of wheat with WLP 500 that I used as a starter and hopefully will be brewing in the next within the next week.  Also planning an ipa with all the hops I have hanging around my freezer (its getting out of control).

Another post to come this week.



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Random afternoon at the Beer Engine in Lakewood

Drinking Avery Brewing Company – Hog Heaven Barleywine.

This is a good beer


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“So what happening at Heights Brewing” you ask?  Piecing some things together, we’re going keezer.  I’ve been reading up on best practices when it comes to getting a kegerator together. I’ve read through a bazillion articles on Homebrewtalk.com and came to the conclusion that a chest freezer would be the easiest and most efficient way to make a kegerator (after my 50 dollar mini fridge experiment failed miserably (rather not talk about it)).  Anywho, here’s the model, I chose it because my apartment is not the most spacious place in the world and sans collar the freezer will hold two kegs.

I might make a collar pretty quickly to mount the co2 outside of the freezer to avoid any humidity problems that might affect the regulator, but I’m gonna save up some money to buy some beautiful perlick taps.  Until then, I’ll be managing with a picnic tap.

You might be thinking, “Patrick, beer freezes in a freezer.”  I know, I’ve got this covered.  Pick up a temperature control regulator, this cuts off the freezer before the temperature of the freezer hits 32 degrees, keeping your beverage cool but not icy.

To get an idea of my setup “might” look like, scroll through this forum, tell me you don’t get excited

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What is a Beer Pipeline and How Can You Can Use it to Your Advantage

After spending way too much money on craft beer the past year, I had quite the revelation that this beer making thing could eventually lead me to save money (gasp).  I figured if spend 9-11 dollars on a six pack of something tasty from the store and would go through around 8 or so beers during the course of the week (don’t judge); inevitably the dollars added up. With our newly completed all grain setup, Craig an I could bust out 50 beers (about eight 6-packs for those counting at home) for about 35-50 dollars (depending on the type of beer we are making). The price comparison would break down as such:

Buying Craft Beer (conservatively assuming $9 per six pack) – $1.5 per bottle

Making Craft Beer (assuming $42 per batch) – $ 0.84 per bottle

These costs don’t take into consideration of the cost of equipment which are a sunk cost at this point (I hear Tuff-Huff, my freshman economics professor, whispering in my ear) and inevitably, there will be more things to buy, but still, the numbers almost speak for themselves, the beer we make could be about half the cost of craft beer in the store. Eventually this led me to the decision that I could go without buying beer (unless we’re at a bar, I’m no cheapskate) for the rest of my life. Now I know what you’re thinking, and yes, there are some beers that I just cannot recreate at this point (tasty pilsners come to mind, damn you bottom fermenting yeast) and yes, I will miss them, but this will stretch my imagination and start to get into beers that I normally wouldn’t even consider.

So, to begin this process, I decided I needed a good beer pipeline. “What is a beer pipeline?” you ask, well since beers take a little patience and we are not kegging yet (a topic we’ll be getting into in the next week or so), our beers take about 6 weeks to create (3 weeks for fermenting, 3 weeks to bottle condition). This means that if you make a batch of beer, you will need to get another batch going at some point during that time so that when you run out of beer, you should have another batch of brews ready to drink. A fun project I do is to look at a calendar add six weeks to the current date and see what the day is time of year you fall into. This helps you see what type of beer you will want to be drinking around that time.  You can also use this estimate beers that will take much longer, such as a russian imperial stout or a barley wine that could take up to 12 months to condition.

Example, today is 2/16/2012, six weeks from now would be March 29. What’s going on March 29 – well I know that is the beginning of spring in Cleveland (fingers crossed) and I’m sure Craig, @mbm503, @twine23 and myself will be thinking baseball (Tribe home opener April 5). What goes well with baseball? I’m thinking patio beers (self explanatory I believe); perhaps a hoppy amber ale, perhaps one of my new favorite styles, the saison, maybe even a Hefeweizen (which I used to hate but have come to appreciate). I’ll be honest with you, I’ve been thinking Hefeweizen for awhile, and I making a sturdy blowoff tube this weekend that I might need to christen with some Hefe yeast.

So here’s the initial Idea which I will be working on the next couple of days, dare I call it Hafner’s Hefeweizen (I’m physically laughing out loud from this one, maybe I could make the beer stronger the first couple of years then when I start selling it, I lower its power).

4 lbs German 2 Row

1 lbs Munich Malt

6 lbs Wheat Malt

0.25 lbs Aromatic Malts

2.1 oz Acid Malt

0.5 lbs Rice Hulls

Not sure about the hops yet, gonna do some research tonight.

Hefeweizen Yeast (WLP 300)

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