We should change our name to Trainwreck Brewing Co…

Mostly Mosaic - Mashing the grains

Mostly Mosaic – Mashing the grains

Worst. Brewday. Ever.

I’ve wanted to brew with Mosaic hops for quite a while now and this Saturday we finally got around to making it happen, sort of.  We were pretty excited as we’ve upgraded our equipment and were moving up to 5 gallon batches, over our previous 4 gallon batches.  We had a shiny new 15 gallon brew pot, new carboys, oxygenator, fancy heat-resistant gloves… a pretty big upgrade all around.  In addition to brewing we were also bottling our Just the Tip spruce tip pale ale.

Most (OK, maybe all) of the things that went wrong could have been prevented with some better planning and focus.  To start the day off we had to season our 15 gallon aluminum kettle.  For those that aren’t aware an aluminum kettle needs to have water boiled in it for 30-60 minutes before the first use to oxidized the aluminium.   So we did this and everything seemed fine there.  In the meantime we were cleaning bottles and racking our Just the Tip to the bottling bucket.  We forgot to take a final gravity reading on it, but measurements a week earlier showed fermentation was complete.  What we forgot at the time is that we also use our bottling bucket as an HLT for fly-sparging, and this bit us in the rear when it was time to sparge, we ended up having to batch sparge.  Once the boil was going we thought we were in the clear but then it struck me that we had a lot of mash/sparge water (11.25 gallons) for a 5 gallon batch of beer.  Somewhere in Beersmith I must have had something set incorrectly for the batch size and equipment.  Finally, even though we had a second immersion chiller in a bucket of ice to pre-chill the water, it took almost 50 minutes for our wort to cool to 75F, way too long.  We’ll need an upgrade to our chiller very soon.  To top everything else off, I burnt my stupid self on the propane burner stand.  Apparently those things get hot when a flame is applied to them for 90 minutes… how was I supposed to know?

After all was said a done we missed OG by over 20 points.  There’s no telling what we’ll get out of this but it sure won’t be what we intended it to be.  On a positive note we got our Just the Tip bottled up and it’s napping and conditioning nicely.  Also, whatever beer we did brew on Saturday started fermenting quickly and I’ve been able to hold fermentation temps to 68F.  I guess we’ll see in about a month what we’ve got going on here.

Mostly Mosaic fermenting nicely

Mostly Mosaic fermenting nicely

Look at our wine, our wine is amazing.

We bottled up our Horse Pop (our take on Skeeter Pee) last week and it has made the rounds of friends and family and received the seal of approval.

Sweet, sweet lemonade

Sweet, sweet lemonade

Horse Pop is a lemon “wine” that is fairly quick to make, doesn’t require aging, drinks like Kool Aid, and packs in 10% ABV.  On a hot day by the pool or grilling in the backyard (or by your condo’s designated grilling platform), Horse Pop will sneak up and kick you in the head.  It’s very easy to drink straight and great over ice.  I’ve heard it’s pretty good mixed with sangria as well and one friend said he was going to try some in a whiskey sour.

This will definitely be made again.  Next time we’ll probably try adding some strawberries or raspberries to it.  Brian said something about adding apricots and raspberries and blueberries and somethingorother… maybe he thought I said we were making fruit salad?

Amazing.

Amazing.

Spruce Tip Ale at Brewbecue 2013

We recently held Brewbecue 2013 at Mostly Harmless and our brew o’ the day was Just the Tip spruce tip ale.  Brian picked fresh spruce tips on a trip to the great northwest and we used a Mirror Pond clone as the base recipe.  Brian took the lead on this brew as I could barely walk due to tweaking my back, I was pretty pathetic but since the day involved beer and BBQ and cigars I pushed through.  I’m a trooper like that.

Brian checking the mash.

Mash it up realll good.

In this brew we tried First Wort Hopping for the first time.  FWH is used to add a smooth, uniform bitterness to your beer.  The hops are added as the kettle is filled from the mash tun and before boiling starts, therefore the hops start releasing their oils right away.  Centennial hops were added as the first wort hops and we also used Cascade and spruce tips later to add aroma and flavor.  A sample of the wort before pitching was very nice, hopefully we’ll get a great brew out of this.  Our goal was to showcase the spruce tips without having a beer that tastes like pine tar.

Spruce Tips

Oooh, sprucey.

To accompany the brewing we fired up the smoker and made a couple of Bacon Explosions, hot dogs and brats and of course all the sides that go along with them.  If you’ve not been introduced to the magic that is a Bacon Explosion you’re missing out, it essentially breakfast sausage stuffed with your choice of fillings the wrapped in a bacon blanket and smoked.  Yes, I just said bacon blanket, try to contain yourself.  Sheesh.  We’ve tried these with a lot of fillings (Pepperoni pizza, Philly cheesesteak, Mexican, Apple) but so for the favorite seems to be Hawaiian with ham, mozzarella and pineapple glazed with pineapple juice and brown sugar.  Awwww yeahhh….

Bacon Explosion

Bacon Explosion. BOOM!

The festivities were rounded out with a bottle share and we had some pretty big names show up – Black Tuesday, Pliny the Elder, Heady Topper, Black Butte Porter, Bell’s Black Note, Batch 10,000 and several offerings from Mostly Harmless.  Our Unemployment Ale (SMaSH) was very well received and White House Honies was decent as well.  Unfortunately something went wrong with our Hair of the Dog Oatmeal Stout and it’s almost undrinkable, it’s quite sour so we’re thinking a bug got into the process somewhere.  Hopefully our V 2.0 stout, an all-grain batch, will fare better.

Bottle Share

We took one down and we passed it around.