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.

It’s Harvest Time! Wet Hop Simcoe IPA Brewday

Tis the season for fresh, wet hops!  We’ve never brewed with wet hops before, mainly because we’re newbies and this is the first harvest season we’ve brewed in.  We had to make a fresh hop brew so we got our hands on some Simcoe and found a recipe we liked, we tweaked it some and brewed this on Saturday.

We used Maris Otter for the base malt as well as some 2-Row, vienna and carapils.  We also added a pound of corn sugar to boost it up some.  Once all is said and done this will have a pound of Simcoe in it.  We brewed with 12 oz and I’ve got 4 oz vacuum sealed in the freezer to dry-hop for 5 days.

Fresh Simcoe Hops in a Box

Fresh Simcoe Hops in a Box

Simcoe Hops Ready to Drop

Simcoe Hops Ready to Drop

Hop Spider in Action - Full o' Simcoe

Hop Spider in Action – Full o’ Simcoe

Boo helped us brew, she was not impressed.

Boo helped us brew, she was not impressed.

There are a few sites that have fresh hops, prices seem to be all over the place but from what I’ve seen an average is about $10.99 – $15.99/lb depending on the variety.  When using fresh hops you need to use 4-5X more by weight to get the same results as you would with pellets, due to the water weight these carry.  Note that wet hops and whole leaf dry hops are not the same, for whole dry hops I’ve read you need about 20% more to get the same results as pellets, YMMV.

FRESH HOP SOURCES (Availability changes quickly, these sites have fresh hops as of this post.)

DIY: Stainless Steel Hop Spider

I’ve seen a few write-ups on DIY hop spiders around and decided to make one myself.  Most of the other builds use a PVC pipe coupler, PVC is not safe at high temp.  A lot of people building them with PVC say it doesn’t touch their wort during boil but I’ve also seen a lot of posts where the PVC has warped from the heat, I ain’t taking any chances.  As a disclaimer, this isn’t my design but I can’t find the post where I first saw it to give credit, probably a post on HBT.

Hop Spider ready to rock

Hop Spider ready to rock

Material and tool list:

  • Stainless steel sink / garbage disposal flange. (I paid $18.00 at Home Depot but found this one on Amazon for $12.78 with free shipping 2-day for Prime members.)
  • 3 ea. stainless steel bolts.  Measure your kettle to see what total diameter you need.  My kettle is 15″ across, I used 3/8 x 8″ bolts
  • 6 ea. stainless steel nuts to fit your bolts
  • Stainless hose clamp big enough to fit the sink flange
  • Reusable hop bag
  • Power Drill
  • Metal punch
  • Metal drill bit, one smaller and one the same size as your bolts
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Pliers
  • Safety glasses so you don’t get metal shavings in your eyeballs

What you need to do:

I always mean to take pics of the process on these things but I forgot to here.  The build on this isn’t that complex though so it should be simple enough.  You can do it, I believe in you.

  • Measure the inner diameter of the flange and mark equal spaces for your three bolts, centered along the height of the flange
  • Using your metal punch, mark a starter spot to drill your holes
  • Drill a hole with the smaller drill bit, if you have a drill press and vise you can likely skip this step, but this made it easier for me
  • After drilling the pilot holes, drill out the holes the same size as your bolts
    • Be careful doing this.  The metal can grab the bit and spin the flange and can hurt you, which sucks.
  • Put a nut on each bolt and screw it about 1/2″ onto the bolt, these nuts will be on the outside of your flange
  • Place the bolt through the hole and adjust the outer nut so just enough bolt is inside the flange to secure the second nut
  • Put another nut on the bolt inside the flange, use the pliers to hold the outside nut and tighten the inside not to secure the bolt to the flange, repeat the last 3 steps for each bolt
  • Take your hop bag and put it through the center of the hose clamp
  • Place this over the bottom of the flange, most of the flanges have a lip at the bottom that works well to keep the clamp from slipping.
  • Measure the depth of your kettle to see how much of the bag you’ll need hanging down, you want a bit of clearance so it’s not setting on the bottom of the pot but you also want to make sure it’s deep enough to stay in the wort when full of hops.
  • Pull the bag through the hose clamp to adjust the length and then tighten the clamp down.
  • You now have a hop spider, go brew some beer.

This setup worked great for me, I used it this weekend to brew an IPA with fresh Simcoe hops.  It held 12 oz of hops with plenty of room to spare.

Hop Spider in action

Hop Spider in action