Pending changes to Georgia homebrewing laws

Beer! Beer! Beer!

Beer! Beer! Beer!

I know changes to laws aren’t generally in our favor but from all I’ve heard the pending changes are actually (mostly) good for us homebrewers.  Georgia HB737 has been approved by the Senate and the House and is now on its way to the governor for approval.

One of the positive changes to come of this is that GA homebrewers will now be allowed to legally transport up to 128 oz of their brews to non-homebrew events without a permit, provided you follow a few guidelines.   Some conflicting verbiage was removed and/or reworded.  Here’s the main bullet points of the law but please be sure to read it and understand the legal requirements for homebrewing.  As a disclaimer I have very little clue what the hell I’m talking about when it comes to laws and lawmaking, but I’ve made a solid effort to gather these details as accurately as possible.  If I misrepresented something please let me know.

Production/Consumption of Malt Beverages

  • Up to 100 gallons per calendar year if there is only one person of legal drinking age living at the residence
  • Up to 200 gallons per calendar year if there are two or more persons of legal drinking age living at the residence
  • No more than 50 gallons produced during any 90 day period
  • May only be consumed at the residence where produced by people of legal drinking age

Transportation to Homebrew Special Events

  • Up to 25 gallons may be transported to homebrew special events and must be labeled with the following information
    • The name of the producer
    • The address of the residence where it was produced
    • The name and address of the homebrew special event where it is being transported
    • The permit number under which the homebrew special event is being held
  • If transported in a motor vehicle, the containers must be sealed and placed in a locked glove compartment, locked trunk, or in the area behind the last upright seat of a motor vehicle not equipped with a trunk.

Transportation to non-Homebrew Special Events

  • Up to 128 oz may be transported, in sealed containers, to a location not licensed under this title (no transportation to a bottle shop, growler shop, brewery, bar, etc.) or issued a homebrew special event permit and must be labeled with the following information
    • The name of the producer
    • The address of the residence at which it was produced
  • If transported in a motor vehicle, the containers must be sealed and placed in a locked glove compartment, locked trunk, or in the area behind the last upright seat of a motor vehicle not equipped with a trunk.

Issuance of Permits for Homebrew Special Events

  • Local governing authority is responsible for issuing permits and passing ordinances that specify what homebrew special events are included
  • Cost of a permit will be $50.00, and shall not be valid for more than six events per calendar year
  • Homebrew special events shall not be held at any location licensed under this title
  • Malt beverages consumed at these events shall be limited solely to beverages produced pursuant to this code and shall only be consumed by participants in and and judges of the homebrew special event

Again, this still has to be signed into law but it’s passed the major hurdles.  A lot of this is already law (like brewing limits) with a few new additions.  We still have people fighting not only to help us keep the right to brew but to give us more freedom with the beer we brew.  With these laws it’s actually easier to carry a gun in your vehicle than it is a bottle of homebrew, at least we’re making some progress.

2013 Brew Year in Review

The Christmas paper has been cleaned up, the hangovers are clearing and we’re ready to roll into an amazing 2014.

2013 was a really big year for us at Mostly Harmless, as it was our first year brewing.  We jumped in with both feet and in a few cases forgot to check the depth of the water before doing so.  All in all we’ve learned an unbelievable amount about brewing, we’ve brewed and shared some great beers and we’ve made some new friends.  I’d say that makes for a successful year.  Here’s a review of what we accomplished last year.

In April 2013 we brewed our first batches of beer.  A stout that we converted from a Mr. Beer kit and an extract ESB batch.  The stout was not very good and the ESB was tasty but lighter than we expected.  Fast forward a few months and we now have a 15 & 6 gallon boil kettle, MLT, countless carboys, wort chiller, Thermapen, fermentation chamber, keezer, hydrometers and refractometers, pH meter and a host of other gadgets and gizmos.  We’ve gone from a simple extract batch to all-grain in 8 months time.  We’ve brewed 15 batches of beer totalling 70 gallons, 2 batches of wine totalling 8 gallons and 6 batches of mead totalling 14 gallons (a few 1 gallon batches here).

We reformulated our stout that was not very good and ended up brewing one of the better stouts I’ve had, of course we’re out of it now so we need to brew more.  We accidentally discovered we make really good mead, so we’ve put some additional efforts into that.  We brewed up a couple batches of quick wine that was quite popular at parties and we made a SMaSH brew dedicated to a friend that got us a bit of exposure on Twitter and even had people offering to buy our beer, they were quite disappointed when we said we were homebrewers and couldn’t do that.

2014 should be a big year for us.  We’ve got our last brew of 2013 in primary now and we’ve got a saison on deck for out next brew.  We also plan to brew another batch of our stout soon and hope we can recreate what we did last time.

We still have plenty to learn but we’re having a great time getting it all figured out, I can’t wait to see where we are at this time next year!  Happy New Year, everyone!  Here’s a quick look at what we accomplished in 2013.

Homebrewed Eats – Beef and Stout Stew

When we have a brewday at Mostly Harmless there are a few things that are gonna happen.  We’re gonna brew some beer (duh), we’re gonna drink some beer (duhhh), we’re gonna smoke some cigars, and we are going to eat.  Most of the time we just hit up a local pizza joint or sports bar but occasionally we throw down some home cookin’.  OK, I throw down some home cookin’, Brian’s the type that makes scrambled eggs in a mug in the microwave and would likely starve to death if not for his wife.  Scratch that, he’d just live off beer and multivitamins.  Anyhow… this week I decided to make up some beef stew to go with brew day.  While Brian was tending the strike water for our session IPA (Rainy Day IPA, stay tuned for more info on that) I got to cooking.

Homemade Beef and Stout Stew

Homemade Beef and Stout Stew

Most beer geeks have had, or at least heard of, Guinness Stew – beef stew brewed with Guinness.  This is my take on that recipe using a bottle of our HOTDOS Oatmeal Stout.  I did some Googling and looked at a few recipes and then threw this together from what I found, most closely based on this one.  In all honesty making a good pot of stew is pretty easy, here’s what you need to do.

INGREDIENTS

2 Lbs lean stew beef
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp flour
Salt and pepper to taste
Dash of cayenne
2 large onions, diced
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 Tbsp tomato paste dissolved in 1/4 cup beef broth
* If you don’t have beef broth you can use 1 tsp powdered beef bouillon in the flour mixture and dilute the tomato paste with water)
10 oz of your favorite stout
2 cups baby carrots or large diced carrots
1 lb diced potatoes
8 oz sliced mushrooms
1 tsp dried thyme

DIRECTIONS

  1. Toss stew beef with 1 Tbsp of the oil.
  2. In a bowl, combine the flour and all dry seasonings.
  3. Toss the meat with the seasoned flour.
  4. Heat remaining Tbsp oil (use a bit more if needed) in a large skillet over high heat.
  5. Brown the meat on all sides.
  6. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions, garlic and tomato paste diluted in broth or water.  Cover and cook for 5 minutes.
  7. Transfer the beef and onions to a crock pot and pour 1/2 the stout into the skillet.
  8. Heat to boiling and hold for 5 minutes, stirring well to deglaze the pan.
  9. Pour the sauce over the meat and add the carrots, potatoes and mushrooms.
  10. Cook on high for 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally.
  11. Approximately 30 minutes before serving add the rest of the stout to the pot and stir well.

When done the stew should have a nice, heavy sauce on it without being too thick.  If sauce is too thick you can thin it with a bit of water.  If sauce is too thin dissolve 1 tsp of corn starch in 1 cup of cold water and add in small increments to the stew, stirring and allowing the sauce a couple of minutes to thicken.  Serve with fresh-baked crusty French bread and more STOUT!

It was cold and dreary and rainy here yesterday and after a long brew day in the elements this was just what we needed.  It came out great and I’ll definitely make it again.  If you try it out let me know what you think.

Cooking the beef and onions with tomato sauce

Cooking the beef and onions with tomato sauce

De-glazing the pan with the stout.

De-glazing the pan with the stout.

Into the crock pot.

Into the crock pot.

How to make super sexy tap handles.

Some more DIY action here at The Mostly Harmless Brewing Co.

With our recent keezer addition we kegged our first beer last weekend, an Oktoberfest Ale dubbed RAWKTOBERFEST!  We also brewed a Pumpkin Pie Ale that we hope will be our most awesome and highest ABV beer to date, estimated to hit ~9.5%.  With amazing brews like this coming along we needed some awesome tap handles to pull our pints from.

Disclaimer:  I am not a carpenter or wood finisherer.  There may be better methods to do this but this worked for me.  If you have a suggestion please feel free to leave it the comments.  Also, I probably should have taken some pics along the way but I didn’t, sorry.  I’ve just got a nice pic of the finished product but you’re smart guys and gals, if you figured out how to brew beer and make a keezer then I’d bet a dollar you can figure this out.

Super Sexy Tap Handles

Super Sexy Tap Handles

What you’re going to need.

  • Wood.  Pick whatever you like to use but just make sure it’s thick enough to install the threaded insert and not break.  I used maple for mine.
  • Threaded wood inserts.  Probably a 3/8″ x 16.  You can get a pack of 10 on Amazon for $6.37 with free shipping for Prime customers, that’s the best price I’ve found.
  • A saw.  I used a jigsaw, it got the job done but a tabletop scroll saw would be even better.
  • Screwdriver.  A thick flat tip for installing the threaded insert
  • Paint or stain of your choice
  • Wood glue
  • Foam brush
  • Plastic squeegee.
  • Lint free clean-up rags
  • Protective finish.  I used gloss spray polyurethane with good results.
  • Fine sandpaper.  I used 400 grit wet sanding pads, worked well for me.   It will depend on the quality of your lumber and your finish.
  • Optional: Pre-stain wood conditioner.  Good idea for woods like maple that tend to blotch when stained.

How to make this happen.

  • Decide on a shape and length for your tap handles and mark the outline on your lumber.
  • Cut that sucker out.
  • Sand it real good.  Get it as smooooth as you can as that’s going to help get a good finish.
  • Mark the center point of your tap base and drill the hole for the threaded insert.  The insert I used required a 1/2″ hole.
  • Install the threaded insert.  Be careful here, if the hole you drilled is too small the insert can break when you’re trying to screw it in.  Make sure to get this straight and centered when you install it.  Use an extra-wide flat head screwdriver.
  • Touch up any rough edges with your sandpaper.
  • Stuff a piece of paper into the threads before you start finishing the wood.
  • Optional step, use wood conditioner if you’re going to stain your handle.  Follow directions on the can.
  • Apply paint or stain.  I was going to stain these but wanted it darker than the stain I had so I used gloss black spray paint.  You’ll likely need a few coats to make it look nice.  Don’t get sloppy here.
  • My paint had a bit of the orange peel look to it.  After painting I sanded with wet 400 grit sanding pads and it smoothed out nicely.
  • Affix the label (if you’re putting a label on yours) with wood glue.   Put a very thin layer on with a brush, coat the entire area where the label will go.  Place the label and then use the squeegee to get out all excess glue, make sure to really squeegee it well.
  • Use a damp cloth to clean up the residue.  Make sure it’s not too wet or you’ll damage your label.
  • Chill out and have a beer and let this dry.
  • Apply your finish.  I used gloss spray poly and like the way mine came out.  You’ll need a few coats, just eyeball when it looks like you’ve got a nice layer on there.
  • Let it dry for a day or two
  • Polish the finish with wet sanding with super-fine sandpaper.
  • Install on your tap and party on.

And there you have it, handmade tap handles.  A pretty simple project that gives you a nice custom touch to your setup.  I can’t wait until our beers are ready to flow with these fancy tap handles, I’m sure they’re going to make the beer taste even better.

Oktoberfest brewday. So it’s ready… in OCTOBER.

No Pumpkin Beer Before Its Time

No Pumpkin Beer Before Its Time

WARNING! WARNING! ONCOMING RANT!

My local bottle shops already have their Oktoberfests and pumpkin beers in.  Some got them before the end of July.  JULY!

I am highly opposed to this.  I believe the technical term is “seasonal creep”.  It started with Christmas, then the other holidays followed suit.  Last year I literally saw Walmart moving out barbecues and lawnmowers and replacing them with Christmas decorations.  And now it’s happening with beer.  Is nothing sacred?

Seriously though, this competition to be the first one to market with stuff needs to stop.  One of my local growler shops mentioned they had to order Oktoberfest kegs much earlier to make sure they got them, now they’re taking up cooler space and not moving.  What’s the point in that?  It really detracts from the meaning of whatever holiday/season you’re celebrating.  Personally, I refuse to purchase or hang any Christmas decorations until after Thanksgiving and I like to enjoy my seasonal beers in season.  Fall and Winter are my favorite seasons for beers, but I look forward to the Spring and Summer releases as well.  I want to drink an Oktoberfest or a Pumpkin Ale when the air is a little crisp and the leaves are starting to fall, not when I’m sweating my ass off from mowing my grass that seems to grow 3′ overnight.  It’s just plain wrong.

So what can I do?  I’m speaking with my wallet and not buying any fall beer now.  If I miss out on some HTF seasonals then so be it.  I know it’s a small thing and I’m in the minority by not doing this, but I’m standing up for what I believe in.  One of my so-called friends (it was Brian) ordered a Pumking on draft Saturday night.  Traitor.

Annnnnd…. I brewed an Oktoberfest on Saturday so it’s ready for October.  In a couple weeks we’ll brew a pumpkin ale and have some with our Thanksgiving dinner, just like God intended

Sometimes you just have to stand up for what you believe in.

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.

 

The World’s Cheapest 3-Tier Homebrew System… or damn close to it.

It’s hard to remember back to the beginnings of Mostly Harmless Brewing Co..  That’s been many, many days ago now… maybe even weeks.  But it’s still nice to reflect back on the days we started with a Mr. Beer kit and a dream and to look at where we are now… two guys who know just enough about brewing to be dangerous.  Ahhhh… I do love reminiscing.

This week we had a couple big upgrades to our equipment.  Due to my temporary hiatus from the daily grind I’ve had a bit more time on my hands lately and I’ve been tinkering around with things.  Brian got sick of ice-bathing our wort to chill it and got us a shiny new stainless steel wort chiller and after seeing a friend brew with a fly sparge head I built one for our setup.  While cleaning the gara… I mean brewery out I stumbled on a partially built aquarium stand that a buddy started and never finished and I had an idea.  We’re going 3-tiers, baby!

Pretty simple build out here.  I added a platform to the top of the stand to put our hot liquor tank on (tank, bucket.. whatever) and then put some blocks on the front of the stand to keep the MLT from sliding off and still allowing us to tilt it and get all that delicious wort.  With the addition of a few feet of high-temp hose and some clamps we had a gravity-fed 3 tier system happening.  I’ve run a test with water through it and it works great, this Saturday we’ll be having a Brewbecue and we’ll test it out on a live batch.  Wish us luck.

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The fly sparge head in action.

In addition to the equipment upgrades we also bottled our White House Honies honey ale.  Our Horse Pop lemon wine and an all-grain version of Hair of the Dog Oatmeal Stout (HOTDOS) will be ready to bottle up soon.

 

By the way, if you happen to run into us and try our beers we ARE on Untappd!  So log away. 😀  Have a great week!

Our R&D department is always working.

Our R&D department is always working.