We’re still brewing!

Gose Cuervo Label.png

I’m not dead yet!

Wow, almost a year since our last post.  Time can really get away from you.  We’re still brewing, though not as much as we’d like to.  It’s been a busy year and sometimes life just gets in the way.  Stupid life.

Here’s what we’ve been up to.

In the last year we’ve brewed about 8 batches.  More variations of our Synesthesia Saison, like one with a Brett addition (got a couple of medals for that one) and Johnny Saisoni, a variant with sun-dried tomato and basil.  Johnny was a great beer, it received mixed reviews with those that didn’t care for it saying it was a well-brewed beer just not something they wanted to drink.  Fair enough.  Most recently we brewed a batch that will get ~12 lbs. of hand-picked Georgia blueberries very soon then did a partigyle to get a Table Beer that will get some gin botanicals added.

We whipped out a couple more kettle sours.  Our latest one, Gose Cuervo, is a margarita gose.  I’m really happy with that one.  Very clean tartness and awesome lime flavor (we used a boatload of key lime zest in it) with a good salt balance and a hint of tequila.  The keg is almost kicked, and that makes me sad.

Deep ThoughtDeep Thought was our most successful IPA brew so far and was a NE style inspired beer.  It had a light haziness and was nice and juicy.  It didn’t last very long.

The BANDITO! Mexican Imperial Stout we brewed aged very well and landed us a 2nd place medal in a local competition.  We’ll definitely have to brew that one again.  On the stout front our most ambitious brewing project was with our homebrew club.  We brewed a 15 gallon batch of Imperial Stout that went into a bourbon barrel then recently brewed another 10 gallons that we’ll use to blend with the barrel-aged beer.  It took longer than we expected to get the bourbon right, for a while it just tasted like nondescript alcohol, we were afraid we may have a huge batch of drain pour on our hands.  Finally, after 4-5 months, it started to take on some awesome bourbony goodness.  Whew.

We just finished a keezer conversion and now have actual taps in our brewhouse.  We’d been living like peasants using picnic taps for a while, not anymore!  Having an actual keezer is pretty damn sweet.  I mean, it’s like magic.  You just pull a handle and BOOM… beer right into your glass.

We’re trying our hand at harvesting some local yeast.  I’ve got some fruit and flowers in tubes right now growing.  An initial sniff tests shows we may have pulled something nice off some local blueberries.  We’ll try isolating a strain soon.

Yeast.JPG

So why are we just posting about all this now?

We’ve been really busy.  Seriously.  Brian is a cigar blogger and the time he has for writing and doing videos usually has to go to his cigar blog.  If you’re a cigar fan check them out over at StogieReview.com. The big annual trade show just wrapped up so they’ll have some hot and sexy content flowing very soon.

At the beginning of this year I took on a new project that takes up 99% of my “free” time, I’m hosting a craft beer radio show out of Atlanta – Beer Guys Radio.  We had some quick buzz and the show has been syndicated and we’re now on stations in Georgia and Alabama.  We’re also available as a podcast if you’re not in one of our radio markets.  We’ll be launching a couple of new shows soon, more info to come.  You should totally check us out.

OK, we’re all caught up.  Whew.

So that’s what we’ve been doing for that last 11 months.  In all honesty the posts here will probably still be sporadic, but we’ll try to post a bit more.  We hope to brew a bit more than we have been, and we’d like to do a few upgrades to the brewhouse.  Wish us luck.

As we part ways for now, please enjoy this pic of Brian with a beard full of cocktail umbrellas.

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Brew Day | Oktoberfest

I do not like cold weather.  OK, I hate cold weather.  Like it got a bit cool recently and it reminded me that Fall was coming, and that reminded me Winter was coming, and that put me in a bad mood in anticipation of the cold weather in 4 months.  I may need to seek counseling for this.  But, as much as I hate the cold I love the beers that come along with the cooler weather.  Stouts, porters, winter warmers, more stouts, Oktoberfests, I even enjoy the occasional pumpkin beer.

In anticipation of this our homebrew club decided to have an all Festbier/Marzen competition.  After careful “research’ of many of the highest rated Oktoberfests as well as a few locals (shout out to my local brewery Red Hare for making an awesome Oktoberfest) we formulated our recipe and got set to brew.

SWAGTOBERFEST

I don’t have any brewday pics so here’s a pic of some dudes all swagged out for Oktoberfest.

This is our first lager brew and we decided to follow Brülosophy’s fast lager method.  There are a lot of positive results shared from those that have used this method and it saves about 3 months over a traditional method.  Not being able to tie up our fermentation chamber for a long lager has been the biggest reason we haven’t brewed a lager before so if we get good results here we’ll probably add more lagers to our brewing plan.

The quick and dirty of this version is that you ferment to 50% attenuation at your initial temp of 50°-55°F, ramp up to 65°-68°F until fermentation is complete and there are no signs of diacetyl or acetaldehyde, ramp down to 30°-32°F and hold this for 3-5 days, then package your beer.  You can have a lager ready to serve in about a month.

Recommended Oktoberfests

We had really bad luck with German Oktoberfests in our tasting.  Even though the stores said the beers were recently delivered each one we tried seemed to be pretty old with papery, cardboard, and lightstruck flaws.  No worries, there are some really good domestic versions available.

  • Red Hare Hasenpfeffer Oktoberfest
  • Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest
  • Highland Clawhammer Oktoberfest
  • Sam Adams Octoberfest
  • New Glarus Staghorn Octoberfest

2015 Southeastern Craft Brewers’ Symposium | 08/29-08/30 | Decatur, GA

This event is coordinated by the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild, an awesome organization working to promote craft beer in Georgia and change our out-of-date beer laws.  They were key in passing SB63 The Beer Jobs Bill this year, which (among other changes) allowed GA breweries to offer beer to go for the first time since prohibition.

The Symposium is meant for commercial brewers, those that are looking to become commercial brewers, and serious homebrewers.  Several sessions are lined up covering topics on both the business and brewing side of craft beer.

Click here to purchase tickets.

Schedule of Events - Click to enlarge

Schedule of Events – Click to enlarge

Brew Day | Erfolgserfahrung Berliner Weisse

Erfolgserfahrung, the German word for experiencing a feeling of success or accomplishment.  Google translate gives the literal translation as “success experience”.  Hopefully this will be an appropriate name for a our Berliner Weisse.  This is our first venture into sour beer, second if you count Synesthesia American (our Brett saison) which we bottled this weekend.

Omeaga Lacto Starter

Omeaga Lacto Starter

For Erfolgserfahrung we went with a recipe of 57% white wheat and 43% pilsner malt.  For souring we used the Omega OYL-605 blend, containing lactobacillus brevis and plantarum.  One of the benefits that Omega’s strain has is that it performs well at lower temperatures (65-100F) than many other strains that need to be kept around 100F to sour successfully.  We prepared the lacto in a 1L starter for a few days and it reached a pH of 3.36 prior to pitching into 8 gallons of wort.  Fortunately (for the beer, not so much for me) it’s been in the mid 90s in Georgia recently so I was able to sour this by leaving it in my garage where it hovered around 88F most of the time.  I kettle soured for 68 hours and was very pleased to find the wort had no off-putting aroma or flavors, it smelled like a glass of tea with lemon and the flavor was very clean and lemony.  I did make sure to leave very little airspace and sealed the kettle with plastic wrap and a lid.  The pH dropped to 3.00 over the 68 hours.

Berliner pH after 68 hours - 3.00

Berliner pH after 68 hours – 3.00

After souring I did a 60 minute boil with a 1/2 oz addition of Hallertau at 15 minutes.  Due to the vessel size I didn’t have room to use my immersion chiller on this one so I cooled the wort to 100F by blowing a fan on the kettle (this took about 30 minutes) then transferred to a carboy and placed in the fermentation chamber at 67F.  The next morning it was down to temp so I oxygenated and pitched Wyeast 1007 German Ale Yeast to complete fermentation.  Within about 8 hours it was showing signs of activity and by the next morning it had a heavy krausen.

Brew Dog Boo helping me Brew

Brew Dog Boo helping me Brew

I'll have you know that I did not get any boilover.  I'm a kettle ninja.

I’ll have you know that I did not get any boilover. I’m a kettle ninja.

In my limited experience and knowledge this has gone very well so far.  I’ve tried other kettle soured beers that were very cheesy and “feety” after souring and this was super clean.  I hope to get this kegged the weekend of July 11th.  We were originally going to make this with raspberries but instead decided we’re going to make some syrups so we can try this mit schuss. Once this is ready I’ll update with some tasting notes.

Brewing Mexican Bandito Imperial Stout

This beer was a long time in the making.  The idea was conceived almost 2 years ago and there’s a great story behind it.  The super-abridged version is that the beer was inspired by an alleged theft of a bottle of Westbrook’s Mexican Cake at a very eventful bottle share.  We dealt with the situation the best way we know how, by mocking it.

BANDITO! Mexican Imperial Stout

BANDITO! Mexican Imperial Stout

After lots of discussion, retelling of the events that created the idea, drinking Mexican stouts, and planning our recipe, we finally brewed the beer.  It’s our biggest beer to date with over 26 lbs of grain in the mash plus some additional fermentables added to the kettle.  The OG was 1.114 with 65% efficiency for our 6 gallon batch, target FG is 1.027 which would give us 11.7% – our first double-digit beer.  Brew day was pleasantly smooth, other than my messing up and adding too much dextrose and D90 to the boil.  Fortunately it wasn’t enough to throw things off too much, just added about .5% to the ABV.

Mashing Mexican Bandito

Mashing Mexican Bandito

Well oxygenated Mexican Bandito

Well oxygenated Mexican Bandito

After fermenting for two weeks at 68° I added some cacao nibs, 1/2 a Habanero, a vanilla bean, and some cinnamon to the fermenter.  We’ll let this sit for 7 days and then keg it.  The sample I tried pre-spice additions was very rich with an excellent body and a nice, smooth boozy backbone.  I think this is going to be really good, I sure hope so.

Time to spice things up

Time to spice things up

TASTING NOTES

05/30/15 | Beer was kegged.

06/19/15 | First sampling.  Carbonation is still a bit light.   Flavors are really good and quite well balanced, especially considering this is very young for a big stout.  Starts with sweet and rich dark chocolate, moves on to a bit of vanilla and cinnamon, finishes with a bit of Habanero tingle on the tongue.  Those that have tasted it vary from it being just right with the Habanero to thinking it could use just a bit more.  The heat is there, but very light.  I’m on the fence as to whether it needs a bit more.

06/26/15 | Tasting even better now.  Friends who tried it last week and again this week commented that it’s getting even better.  Right now we’re very happy with this beer.

09/07/15 | Really happy with the way this beer turned out.  Very rich, lots of vanilla and chocolate, light cinnamon and habanero.  I recently entered it into the New South Brew Off and scored 38.5, can’t wait to brew this one again.

Getting Funky with a Brett Saison

It’s been a little while since I’ve posted here so I’ll start with an update of the past few months.  It’s been busy and we’ve only been able to brew 3 beers so far this year, we’ve really got to step it up.  We entered a couple homebrew competitions and our Synesthesia Pêche took 2nd for its category in one of them.  Our 2nd year Centennial hops are coming in really nicely, hopefully we’ll get some cones this year.  In a couple of weeks we’ll be serving a beer we brewed with Burnt Hickory Brewery (Chocolate Coffee Porter with Raspberries) at their 3rd Anniversary Party, if you’re in the Atlanta area come on out and join us.

Brew Dog Boo rocking her medal for Synesthesia Pêche

Brew Dog Boo rocking her medal for Synesthesia Pêche

Now that we’re all caught up let’s get on with our latest brew, Synesthesia American.  If you’ve followed us for a while you know we brew a lot of saisons, we’ve had very good results with them and gosh darn it, we like them.  With Synesthesia American we took our standard Synesthesia Saison recipe and switched out the yeast to WLP670, an American Farmhouse strain with Brett.  This one will take 4-6 months (from what I’ve read) to reach its potential and should produce a moderate funkiness.  I wanted to test this recipe brewing the beer exactly as we have in the past and only changing the yeast.  Our base recipe had a whirlpool hop addition and we kept it in there although it may not do much for the finished beer due to the extended aging.  We recently opened a bottle of our first batch that was 14 months old and it aged extremely well.

This will get fermented up to 85°F for a couple of weeks then we’ll move it off the trub and into an upstairs closet for 3-4 months.  After that we’ll bottle-condition, I look forward to seeing how this one changes over time.  I’ve never been the most patient brewer but have to say that seeing positive results on past beers make it a bit easier to wait things out, it also helps to have a few in the pipeline to quench your thirst while you wait.

Action Shot! Synesthesia American boiling away

Action Shot! Synesthesia American boiling away

UPDATES AND TASTING NOTES

05/06/15 | Transferred to secondary, purged with CO2.

06/10/15 | Just short of 2 months since brew day.  Gravity at 1.004.  Flavor is a fruity saison with (maybe?) a very light funkiness.

06/27/15 | Bottled.  Gravity was still at 1.004.  Huge pellicle on top, no sign of pellicle on 06/10.  Starting to develop some of that Brett funk.

Pellicle on a Brett Saison

Pellicle on a Brett Saison

TASTING NOTES

09/07/15 | At just over 4 months old this beer really started to hit its stride.  Good amount of funk and very fruity with flavors of pineapple and mango.  It recently took 2nd for the Belgian Specialty Ale category at the New South Brew Off.

I’ve seen a lot lately about the love for green bottles for funky beers to allow some lightstruck character.  I bottled some of this in brown bottles and some in green bottles to compare the two.  Early tasting shows a distinct difference with the green bottles being noted as having an herbal quality.  I took one 750ml bottle of brown and one of green and placed them on a shelf that gets only indirect light, I’m going to leave them there for 6 months then try each one side-by-side to note the character differences.

Winner!  Synesthesia American took Silver for category at the 2015 New South Brew Off

Winner! Synesthesia American took Silver for category at the 2015 New South Brew Off

2014 Brew Year in Review

It’s 2015, isn’t that crazy?  Twenty-Fifteen. It sounds so… futuristic.  A friend shared an article with me comparing how close certain dates were to each other, like 1980 being closer to FDR, Churchill, and Hitler fighting each other than it is to today.  Cray-zee. Well we’re looking forward to what the future holds for us here at MHB as we look back on the awesomeness of 2014.

2014 Brew Year in Review

  • We brewed 12, 5-gallon batches of beer
  • We brewed 3, 1-gallon experimental batches of beer
  • We brewed 2, 5 gallon batches of mead
  • We brewed 2, 5-gallon batches of hard lemonade (Sweet, sweet lemonade)
  • All in we brewed 83 gallons of alcoholic beverages in 2014 (Maybe we should shoot for 100 this year)
  • We failed miserably at growing Centennial hops, not a single cone
  • We completed OU’s 400 level chemistry course, The Chemistry of Beer
  • We were invited to brew and serve one of our beers at a local brewery (Burnt Hickory Brewery) for their anniversary party
  • We entered 3 of our beers across 4 BJCP sanctioned contests
  • We won 2 awards for our beers: A 3rd place finish for Synesthesia Saison and recently a 1st place (we think, it’s a long story) for It’s The Great Pumpkin, Timmy D!
  • I almost forgot, our label for Atlantarctica was selected as a finalist for AHA’s Label Contest

A few stats about our website in 2014

Looks like we’ve got our work cut out for us in 2015 if we want to top our 2014 accomplishments.  I think we can do it.  Our main/only goal in 2015 is to brew better beer.  We improved our knowledge and process a lot in 2014 and we’ll continue to do that in 2015.  There are a few pieces of equipment we’d like to add our upgrade, since Santa punked me out on the Sabco.  I’ll remember that, Santa.

I hope everyone had a great 2014 and that 2015 is even better.  We’re definitely looking forward to what the year in beer holds for us.