Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays, everyone! I hope you all have a great next couple of weeks. I got a Christmas present in the mail yesterday. OK, so I ordered it six months ago and it just happened to show up before Christmas...well planned.

Lowell Brewing Co. has now doubled its fermenting capacity to a whopping 20 gallons or 2/3 bbl with the additional fermentor! This will allow me to have two beers fermenting at the same time. I also have another project coming up regarding a new keezer that maybe I won't reveal until it is complete. Thanks, Micah and Jeff, for helping me out with some of the wood working!  I will be kegging the 4th batch of Busted Wing IPA tomorrow. It varies slightly from the previous batches as it has a little more hop flavor and is more heavily dry-hopped. Should be tasty. I also threw Muddy Huddy into the ring for the annual Mountain Sun brewpub Stout Month competition. If it wins, a 6 bbl batch will be brewed and served at all three locations...pretty cool! I'm not holding my breath though. I'm trying to finish all of these projects in the next month and get things in order so I can free up some time for the new addition to our family in March! I know I don't usually go into topics outside of brewing, but I have a lot to be thankful for in this past year. First and foremost, my amazing wife, Sally and the upcoming arrival of our first kiddo. I couldn't be more excited and truly in awe with the whole experience, notably the strength and loving nature of Sally. I have also realized how lucky I am to have the family that I do and how important every single one of them are to me. So, on that note, have a great holiday and I'll check back very soon. Treat yourself to well-made, craft beers this holiday season and appreciate what you have in life while you sip!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Muddy Huddy!

This weekend I brewed a beer inspired by my buddy, Micah. Literally, we could go to a brewery with 30 beers on tap and he'll drink stout all evening. Therefore, he get's a stout coming out of Lowell Brewing. He and his wife chose to name it Muddy Huddy! Their newly born son's name is you can figure that one out. I wanted to make the beer very complex with a range of malts including a big roast character. I also used some CTZ, Chinook, Centennial, and Wilamette hops in it. After the mash, I realized that maybe I used a little too many specialty malts as the beer came out with a huge mouthfeel and body. Hopefully the 8% alcohol will thin that out a bit!

I also waxed the bottles of Oaked Townie Brown this weekend.This guy is a 13.1% Imperial Brown Ale brewed with British malts, maple syrup, and brown sugar. It was aged in an oak barrel for 6 months and is ready to go! It's pretty delicious and a great after dinner beer with dessert.

The waxing got a tiny bit out of control, I'll have to trim the drips a bit!

Olivia, Micah's wife, showing how Oaked Townie Brown is a great after-run beverage

Muddy Huddy should be ready to drink round the first week of December. I'm looking forward to a nice, hefty cold weather sipper. Until next time...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What's next?

The IPA is running low and it is always nice to have one of those on tap...especially with my new shipment of Amarillo and Centennial hops....mmmmmm. Although, I have been wanting to brew a stout lately, maybe something with a huge roast profile, hint of chocolate, and American hops. I'll have to consult the Stout King, Micah on this one. Thoughts? I know Jeff will combine the two and want a Black IPA...also an option. I'm in the process of repairing the brewery after my mash tun temperature probe died on me. Once that is in, I'm back on the saddle. I am also designing a new hopback/trub filter for the brewery...that way I can get the late hop aroma I've been looking for. Hope everyone is doing well, check back soon!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Fine Time for Barleywine!

I brewed 10 gallons of English Barleywine this past weekend and 5 gallons of an English Mild. The 10 gallons of Barleywine came from the first runnings of the mash (OG 1.094 or finishing at ~10% alcohol) and the 5 gallons of English mild came from the second runnings and some sparge water (OG 1.035 or finishing at ~3.5% alcohol). I also added about a cup of malt extract to the mild along with some roasted grain. Note to self: 42 lbs. of grain is a wee bit over the max capacity of my mash tun! This is with a thick mash too, about 1 quart/lb. of grain. For those readers that do not brew, you probably have no idea what I am talking about. Feel free to ask me some questions!

Mash Tun to Capacity

So, by the time these guys are done fermenting, I should have 15 gallons of beer. My oak barrel is empty, so I will be filling that with 5 gallons of the strong stuff and then putting the rest of the two beers in two kegs. The taps will then be full again! I'll have the Hopocaplypse, Bellamy Amber, English Mild, and English Barleywine pouring. I'm going to try and get all of the Oaked Townie Brown into bottles very soon and wax them. Christmas presents? 

Mug, the English Barleywine in the conical and Thimble, the English Mild in the carboy to the right!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Bellamy Amber and San Diego Breweries

I woke up early this morning and started to brew a batch of Bellamy Amber. Along with Hopocalypse, this one will also be served at Erin and Phil's wedding at the end of October! Hope it turns out OK. I tweaked the recipe a bit to cater to the wedding couple's requests. Trying to get a lot of malt flavor and aroma, less bitterness, a little more hop aroma. Hopocalypse turned out to be a great IPA. It's pretty hoppy and it has a nice wet hop aroma.
Hess Brewing
I just got back from a work trip to San Diego and managed to squeeze in a couple of brewery visits while I was there. I traveled up to the emerald city in Escondido...that's right, Stone Brewing. It's an amazing brewery and resaturant and I had some phenomenal beers and food. I also stopped by Green Flash which was 1 mile from the hotel. Although, these were not the best ones on the trip. That honor goes to Hess Brewing in Sand Diego! This brewery was housed in a 800 sq foot warehouse and brews 50 gallon batches. It was really inspiring and the beers were delicious. Check them out: Hess Brewing .

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Big Townie Brown sees the light of day

I pulled the barrel up from the crawlspace on Friday and kegged the Big Townie Brown that was in it. It had been in there for about 6 months. It tastes strong (~13%), sweet, and woody. It's almost like a port...delicious, but maybe for just one in a sitting....unless your Micah.
I also finally got around to making Moxie some dog treats out of the spent brewing grain from the wet hop harvest ale batch. I got the recipe from my friends Jason and Melissa:
  • 6 c spent grain
  • 6 c flour
  • 1.5 c peanut butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 bananas
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and then dry for 3-5 hours afterward at 200 degrees
Moxie loves these, they are like crack for dogs!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Fresh hops...get your fresh hops here!

Just got back from awesome weekend wedding in Telluride (congrats Jon and Mary-Todd!) and we stopped by Rising Sun Farms in Paonia where Glen grows organic hops. Unfortunately, they were planning on harvesting the day we showed up and I couldn't grab any hops. I told them we'd swing back through on the way back to Boulder. The weekend went by too fast and we had a great time! We rolled into Paonia and the hop farm on Sunday (after some peach and pear picking) and saw that they had been trying to repair the harvester all weekend! Glen then graciously allowed us to go out and pick some fresh hops. We gathered about 2 pounds each of Chinook and Cascade through the clouds of mosquitoes (thanks, Phil, Erin, and Sally). I traded Glen some of my imperial saisons I brewed and after some good conversation we were on our way back to Boulder. When I got back, I vacuum sealed the hops and refrigerated them. I brewed 10 gallons of a Wet Hop Harvest Ale on Labor Day with the hops we picked in Paonia and threw in whatever I had in my hop garden at home. I've never brewed a wet-hopped ale, so I was excited for it. Here I am harvesting my Chinooks in the backyard. I got about a 1/2 pound of wet hops from the vines. This photo is from today, good color and final gravity on the harvest ale. It finished out around 1.010, right where I wanted it. Now time to throw some more hops in for dry hopping...although they will be wet maybe it is called wet hopping.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What's next in the barrel?

I am putting this to a vote! The Big Townie Brown will be coming out of the oak barrel soon. I need to follow it with another big beer. Should I throw in an English Barleywine or Russian Imperial Stout? Both will be aged for 6 months or so.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The streets run golden with non-alcoholic beer

The NA beer experiment was a disaster! After several hours of work and trying to repair the horrible tasting brew...I surrendered. 5 gallons of the bitter swill went rushing down the side of my street. Not even sure the squirrels were interested in trying it.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Lowell Brewery has upgraded!

So, I know all of you have been waiting with bated breath to see what new piece of equipment we acquired at the home brewery. Well here it is! I picked up a double sliding door cooler, cleaned it up, and then threw in a...wait for stainless steel conical fermenter! So, I guess there is two new pieces of equipment. It is a 15 gallon fermentor and is great because it means I don't have to haul around huge carboys full of liquid anymore. My back thanks me too. One of the most exciting features of the cooler is the large sign that Jeff and my sister-in-law, Ashley got for me as a birthday present. My other sister-in-law, Abby, helped design it! It is amazing! I think it is the centerpiece of the brewhouse! As you can see above, 10 gallons of On Golden Blonde were bubbling in the fermenter and I kegged 5 gallons of it today and I am in the process of heating up the other 5 gallons to make a non-alcoholic portion. We'll see how that goes! It's hard to see in the photo above, but I replaced the thermostat of the cooler with a digital one which allows me to have more precise control of the fermentation temperature. I have another identical fermentor on order and will put it on the other side of the cooler. I'll be able to store about 100 bottles of homebrew as well as 4 kegs in there. The cooler is a beast! The 1/2 garage just got a little smaller!

Sunday, August 14, 2011


I poured a little bit of the Saison from the tap, though a bit early. It was fantastic. Nice color, nice aroma and taste. It came out at 9.5% abv, so it is more of an imperial saison. I brewed 10 gallons of Blonde on Friday and it is bubbling away in the fermentor now. I increased the late hops from the last recipe, so hopefully that gives it a stronger late hop aroma.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

It's About Time I Brewed Again

A few weeks ago, Jeff and I brewed the third batch of Busted Wing IPA and it came out really good. We brewed 10 gallons with a lot of the "C" hops and dry-hopped the second 5 gallons with Citra hops. I think we're getting really close to the right recipe. Jeff has been restricted to dough-in duty as you can see below. His shoulder is almost back to brewing shape!

Ol' Grain Bill pouring the grain into the mash tun

This weekend my good friends, Ryan and Sam, came to visit from NH with their three munchkins. Ryan also dabbles in brewing and we put together a batch on Friday morning. We brewed a Saison, which I never brew. I can actually only recollect brewing two Belgian beers in my life, a wit and this one. It went really well and we started brewing around 6:00am. Take a look at the brewery in the morning sun...bling!

Better than coffee at 6am

We had a great time and it was awesome to finally brew with Ryan. The latest tasting of the Busted Wing batch was especially 10am. You always have to taste the latest beer tapped during the brew session, regardless of what time you brew!

Getting ready to transfer into the fermentor

Stay tuned everyone, I have a big new edition to the brewery and it's going to be great, it should be delivered this week! Until next time...

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Yeah, I'll brew after work...that's a great idea!

Nope, it wasn't. Well, at least this time. I started heating up the water around 5:30 pm and cleaned the last piece at 2:00 am! Jeff and I decided to re-brew our Amber recipe, 10 gallons worth! The last recipe was a little too sweet and malty, not enough hop flavor and aroma. We would like it to be  touch drier and less sweet...but still have the malt flavor and a good hop nose. So, we lowered the mash temp, cut back on the caramel malts, and added a huge slug of late hops. It's fermenting now and will be ready in a week, then we'll be able to see if the new recipe changed anything! On a side note, I kegged the new Blonde and Pale Ale on Tuesday and they tasted really good. The Blonde is very light bodied and the Pilsner malt really helped bring out that grain flavor in it. The Pale Ale was a medium bodied, slightly sweet with caramel flavors...though I think it could have used more late hops. They will be served at the big party next Saturday, so hopefully they are conditioned enough and carbonated by then!

So with the Amber ale we brewed Thursday night, one of my volume calculations was off and the boil kettle was right at the top...whoops. The gravity reading still came out to what it was supposed to be (surprisingly) and now we'll just have to wait and see how it turns out. There were a slew of problems with the brewery that just happened to hit at around midnight, so that didn't make it too fun. Luckily, I had Friday off! Here's a pic of the boil kettle full of 14 gallons of wort in a rolling boil, least to me:

On the other hand, Amy (my sister) and I went hiking with Moxie yesterday; it was great. This is what spring in Colorado looks like. I don't think the snow will be gone until August.

Hope everyone had/has a great weekend. I'll check in again soon!

Monday, June 6, 2011

That was a long one

On Saturday, I decided to have a double brew both beer styles and volumes! I usually just do 5 gallon batches because I like to have 4 different kegs on tap at the house. Bigger 10 gallon batches would take up two kegs each, and thus only give me two styles of beer on tap (a shame). Anyways, I brewed two 10 gallon batches because half of it is being brewed for the biggest birthday party of the decade! My nephew and brother-in-law (is that right? or is he technically my sister-in-law's husband...I like using brother-in-law) just had birthdays recently...4 and 40!

Lowell Brewery working hard

Charlie and Jeff ...4 and 40! My sister-in-law, Abby, made the invite. Check out her blog, she's talented!
I brewed a revised Blonde Ale recipe and a new Pale Ale. This time around, I added a little pilsner malt to the Blonde to hopefully improve the malt flavor and I used some late addition Crystal hops. Should be an easy drinker. I have never brewed a pale ale (surprisingly) and this one is mostly 2-row and crystal malts with Cascade and Centennial hops. It shouldn't be too bitter, but with a nice hop flavor and aroma. I also thoroughly cleaned the brewery and all the available kegs! Basically, I started at 6:00am and finished around 8:00pm (with a little beer break and socializing in between). It was a long day and I was feeling it...I'm getting old.

Blonde boiling away (right) and the Pale right in line behind it (left) in the mash tun!

Have I ever showed you the inside of the brewery's control panel? Sounds racy, eh? Well here it is. I wired everything myself and had it checked with an electrician. Even though it looks like a bird's nest, it works great! It's all sealed and waterproof too...which helps with the whole electrical fire/electrocution thing. Don't worry, Mom, it's safe.

The guts
After finishing the brewing part and hauling jugs with 5 gallons of unfermented beer (wort) in them...we were ready to throw the yeast in and make some booze!

Just after putting the yeast in

Walah! 12 hours later, the yeast were eating the sugars and bubbling away making beer! Blonde on the left, Pale on the right.

It's been hot here, in the 90s, but hopefully the fermentation temps will stay low for the next couple of days and we'll get some delicious beer out of that long day. Well, this has been a long post, but it's been a little while since the last one. See all of you soon! For the locals, keep your eyes and ears open for a Lowell Brewing Co. festival at the end of July/beginning of August. Sally and I were thinking it will be a charity event for some of our favorites!

Oh, by the way, the On Golden Blonde and Bellamy Amber kegs emptied last weekend! On tap now, the two Busted Wing IPAs...delicious. 

All of you that have received gifts of beer from me, whether in bottle or on tap, don't forget to give us some feedback and review the beers (link on the left)! 

Monday, May 16, 2011

American Craft Beer Week!!!!!!!!

Who's ready for American Craft Beer Week? Another great video put out by and the Brewers Association. Get out there and visit your favorite craft brewery and bring a friend who has never been! Best week of the year...besides Christmas week. 

Thursday, May 12, 2011


I designed some labels to put on the beer that we give to friends and strangers! This way, we can hopefully start getting some honest and sometimes anonymous feedback. Friends' feedback is great, but as we all know, sometimes they sugarcoat their reviews. I am of the philosophy that compliments on the beers are good, but criticism is great. If you haven't noticed, there is a link on the sidebar of the blog where you can review the beers that you have imbibed from Lowell Brewing Co. I figured this is a good way to improve on the beers we make!

On a another note, the two Busted Wing IPAs were put into kegs on Monday and they should be ready to drink in a week or so. They both were reasonably tasty right out of the fermentor and I'm excited to see how they taste after a little bit of conditioning and carbonation. For now, On Golden Blonde and Bellamy Amber are pouring nicely and my parents are enjoying both of them...success! 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

2nd crack at Busted Wing IPA

The man behind the name, Jeff. He's still brewing with me in whatever capacity he can. Here he helps out putting chilled, oxygenated wort into the fermentor.  It's amazing how much it helps to have another brewer to brew with!
My last attempt at the Busted Wing IPA didn't turn out so well so I tried it again a week later. I made this one with Magnum, Centennial, Bravo, and Cascade hops. I got rid of the Simcoe because it's not going to be a pellet hop that I can get all the time. It smelled and tasted good going into the fermentor! I also backed off the medium crystal malts and added a little more light crystal...the color on the last one was a little darker than I would have preferred. OG was around 1.072. I am in Seattle now, but when I get back, I should be able to see how it turned out. As far as the last batch of Busted Wing goes, I dry-hopped it with Citra hops before I left and that one will go into the keg on Monday along with Busted Wing II! think it will actually be a good IPA, not a pale ale, as I thought. The citra hops will give it a nice orange/lemon nose. The taps will then be full once again after this! This time, I really want to have a little party to serve the beer and maybe some good meat thrown in the smoker.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Back from Belize and at it again

Just got back from Belize; it was a great honeymoon and I think it is going to be hard to get back into the swing of things. Although yesterday, I put the previously fermenting On Golden Blonde ale and Bellamy Amber ale into kegs. They tasted great and I think the adjustment in the water chemistry really helped. Both of them are a little more complex tasting than usual.  Sounds highfalutin, eh?

I also brewed another one yesterday, Busted Wing honor of Jeff and his recent shoulder surgery. I had to use Simcoe leaf hops instead of the pellets I planned on and I didn't like that. Those damn Simcoe pellets are hard to come by! Something went wrong and it boiled down too far in the kettle (or my sight glass was loose) and I had to chase with water into the fermentor to get the volume and correct OG. You can always taste when a beer has been diluted rather than brewed to the correct gravity. It came out more like a pale ale than an IPA. I was disappointed, but it may still be a nice drinker. We'll see, it is fermenting now. I was thinking about maybe dry hopping it with Citra or Cascade, what do you think? I have a solid IPA recipe and next time I will execute it correctly, promise. Might have to sub out the Simcoe for a more readily available pellet hop...I was thinking maybe Bravo...not sure though. Maybe I was just out of whack coming back from vacation or maybe it was because my co-brewer was laid up. I'll let you know how it tastes when it finishes up next weekend!
Toured the Belikin Brewery right before we flew out of Belize. It's amazing to me that there is ONE brewery for the entire country...we're spoiled. The beer is your typical Central American fare...nothing spectacular, but a nice beach beer. By the way, the tour was a rip-off, $15 and 10 minutes long. Although, you did get all the beer you could drink in an hour...I tried to make my money back.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

And Then There Were None

Yes, I knew this day would come. The taps runneth dry, my friends. On the same day that Jeff and I brewed two new beers, the last two on tap kicked. The brew day went great and was actually really easy to mash the second beer while the first was in the boil kettle. We brewed an Amber and a Blonde. I was happy how smoothly the day went considering I was up until 2:30 am the night before rewriting recipes and trying to get my brewery controller to work...whoops. I guess I should back up files before I update software. We fooled around a lot yesterday with water chemistry and we added some salts that I think will give the beers a little more complexity. Well, I'm off on our belated honeymoon to Belize tomorrow, so I'll let these beers bubble until I get back!

No beers on the board! Though, two new ones bubble away...

Friday, April 8, 2011

Like you needed another excuse to enjoy Colorado brews

April 8th-16th. What a great excuse to go out and support your Colorado craft brewers. So, get out there and maybe visit some of the Colorado breweries that you haven't been to before...or tell your buddies about your favorite local brewery and bring them along.

Go to for more information on events and breweries. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Keezer

I guess I have never really posted a photo of my serving setup. I have a converted chest freezer with temperature control to dispense the brew from kegs ...therefore called a keezer....clever, right? I didn't come up with that name, the home brewing community did! The chalk board (used chalkboard paint) on the front is nice for updating the 4 beers on tap. I also encased the lid of the keezer with wood and stained it. I put 4" casters on the bottom of it so I can roll it away from the wall easily to load and unload kegs. It was getting difficult to slide a keezer full of kegs along the floor, I'm old. In the photo, you can also see the sweet tap handle my brother gave me as a groomsman gift for his says "Lowell Brewing Co". I guess this is also "my area" of the house where I can hang my Red Sox memorabilia!

Getting ready to pour a flight of brews for my lunch guests. I'm making a stupid face, but it's a nice shot of the keezer...thanks, Abby.

I'll be brewing TWO beers this Saturday in anticipation of my folks coming to visit at the beginning of May. I'll be making Blonde and Amber ales. Each of them won't be too hoppy, but will be well-balanced with the amber having slightly more malt character (this is how I hope they will turn out). My parents definitely have not embraced the hops yet and my Dad instantly gets a headache and is hungover every time he has a hoppy beer. No idea why that happens, but I feel like he'll start to acquire that taste for hops that all of us who live in Colorado have! My Mom usually likes the lighter beers, in both body and hops...the Blonde ale should be great for her. Wish me luck, it'll be a very long brew day!

The beginnings of the beers...yeast and grain!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

2 taps down.....on to the next round

So, I just bottled off the kegs into some bombers. The Brother and Kitchen Sink are done, but I was able to get two bottles of the Brother and six bottles of the Kitchen Sink. I also got about 4 bombers each of the other two beers on tap. Although, Sally's Lil' Slice of Heaven is close to being kicked too! Big Townie Brown still has a couple of gallons left in the keg...I think...unless Micah has been sneaking pints again. So, on to the next beers. Like I said this round will be a little more sessionable. I'll be brewing two beers next weekend and I know one will be an Amber, but I'm not sure about the second one. It is going to be the lightest beer in the lineup, so I was thinking either a Blonde or Wheat. I'm putting it to a vote....what does everyone think will be a light drinking crowd-pleaser? Post a comment and let me know.

The kicking of the kegs also means that there will not be a Lowell Brewing Strong Ale festival :( . Though, I'll have to have another one with the sessionable beers coming up, not to worry, local friends. I'll keep you posted.

Previously, this week, Jeff and I bottled 5 different beers in 20 bottles for the NHC. Hopefully, one of them makes it past the first round. If anything, it is a great opportunity to get some feedback on the beers from certified judges. 

Hoping one of the beers is #1! Moxie looks like Zuul...

I'll check back  soon, but in the meantime, let me know which beer is your favorite light-drinker between a Wheat and a Blonde (sounds like the beginning of a bad joke)...

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Colorado Beer Code is up for debate again...Vote NO on HB1284 & SB 194

I hate to use this blog as a political soap box, but I feel very passionate about anything that would hurt our Colorado craft brewers.

HB1284 (Sale of Full Strength Beer in Grocery Stores) 
SB194 (Sale of Full Strength Beer in C-Stores Stores)

While this seems like a no-brainer vote at first, it really could be detrimental to our Colorado craft brewers. Why wouldn't we want the convenience of picking up our favorite craft brewed six-pack at the grocery store  when we are already there getting our food for the week? Well,  here's the thing. Do you think the big box (Kroger, Safeway, etc.) grocery stores or convenience stores will carry that favorite six pack of yours? Most of the shelf space in the stores will be reserved for the big beer guys and the smaller guys will most likely get squeezed out. How many hoops do you think the craft brewers will have to jump through to get their beer on these shelves, as opposed to just walking into the local liquor store and talking turkey with the owner? It becomes a cascading effect from here. The local, privately-owned liquor stores will begin to go out of business because their beer sales will decrease and therefore the only other outlet for the small craft brewers will be the grocery and convenience stores, where they may or may not be able to display their beer. If the small craft brewers cannot sell their beer, they too will soon be forced to shutter. I know this sounds like an extreme result, but it is more possible than you might think. Therefore, it all goes on down the line and affects more segments of the industry than you think. Now, is all this worth the five minutes you might save picking up beer on aisle 7 as opposed to walking next door to the liquor store?

I suggest all of you that feel passionate about Colorado craft beer, its reputation, and its longevity in our state to write your representatives and senators. Go to this website and enter your Colorado zip code to find your reps information:

Compose an email or letter similar to this:

Dear Representative or Senator, 

Please vote NO on HB1284 & SB194. I love Colorado craft beer and what it stands for in our state.These bills are putting my beer at risk because my favorite Colorado craft brewery is less likely to get vital shelf space if corporate non-local, chain stores control the Colorado beer market. If I can't find my favorite craft beer on the shelf, I can't buy it. Access to market is critical in the beer industry and these bills move in the wrong direction. They will kill jobs, not grow them. Colorado is the envy of the nation when it comes to craft beer and these bills will change that. Please vote NO on HB1284 & SB194 and preserve brewery jobs in Colorado and our reputation as the leader of the craft beer industry. Help Colorado Brewers grow, and grow the state economy. These bills mean less selection and higher prices for Colorado craft beer lovers like me and I am upset. Please vote NO on HB1284 and SB194. 

Thank you

My letters have already been sent and I urge you to do the same.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A little street credit!

This is just downright cool. The brewery was recently featured on the American Homebrewers Association website. I'm getting an agent right now... Seriously though, it is nice for your hard work to be recognized in some form or shape.

Pimp my system: Andrew's Computer Controlled Homebrewery

Pimp my system: Andrew's Computer Controlled HomebreweryThis weeks pimped system is brought to us by Andrew from Boulder, His system includes a full control board as well as a computerized control and monitoring system! more >

Monday, March 21, 2011

Let's get it in the barrel!

After 3 weeks of fermenting, I finally put Townie Brown into the oak barrel and keg! I fermented in two 5 gallon batches and it ended up around 1.022 gravity at about 11.8% ABV! He's a big boy. One of the 5 gallon batches was slightly more dilute because of the water chase we did coming out of the brewery into the fermentor. That batch finished up around 1.022 and went into the keg. The other batch which was full strength went into the barrel and was still around 1.026. I think the 6-9 months at 55-60F in the barrel will let it ferment out a bit more though and it will finish around 1.022 as well. Enough throwing numbers around...this stuff was tasty. It has a nice, sweet malt and brown sugar backbone to it that I think balances out the high alcohol really well. There is a slight British hop aroma, but not much bitterness. The one in the keg will be carbonated in about 10 days, so we'll see how it tastes poured into a glass...a very small glass though. I have a feeling this one will be on tap for some time.

Get into the barrel, Townie Brown! You can see what's on tap as well
The other beers are pouring and they are quite least to me. Some might find them a little hoppy for there liking, but I think they're great. I might have to stop pouring some of them so I can bottle them up for the NHC competition. I'm entering an Imperial IPA, English Old Ale, American Barleywine, and two Specialty Beers (Imperial Red and Imperial Brown). I'm excited in only the way a beer geek can be, to bottle these guys up with my new Blichmann BeerGun. It will make it a lot easier to bottle.

The Lowell.Brewing strong ale festival will have to be planned soon so I can clear the taps and make room for some new brews. There will be some more sessionable beers in this next phase, maybe try to keep them under 7%! Now why would I want to do that?....

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Count me in to see this one...

I never get tired of these movies and can't wait to see this...whenever it comes out. The craft beer culture in America told by Colorado's craft brewers. Should be great!

Monday, February 21, 2011

He's a big ol' beer named Townie Brown

Yesterday, Jeff and I brewed one hell of a beer. We made 10 gallons of an imperial brown! What's that you say?, "You'll NEVER drink 10 gallons of an imperial beer". Yes, we least not quickly. 5 gallons of this beer is going into the oak barrel I have and will be aged for about 6-9 months. The other five will be kegged and served. The brew day went great, though the mash was a beast this time around. The mash tun was about maxed about, check out the picture below. The beer will finish at 12.1% theoretically (OG was 1.114) and was made up of Marris Otter malt, 2-row, crystal, special roast, and a wee bit of chocolate malt. Also, we added maple syrup and dark brown sugar. We topped of our numbers with some light malt extract and corn sugar as well. It smelled and tasted delicious, strong toasted caramel and nutty flavors. The hops used were Columbus for bittering and East Kent Golding for aroma and flavor. The 10 gallons of wort is currently bubbling away in the room next to me!

Say when...

While we were brewing, we also kegged Pliny the Brother and Sally's Lil' Slice of Heaven. They both finished up at around 1.010. That is perfect for Pliny, but maybe a little too low for the barleywine. The lower OG might make the barleywine a little more drinkable, but hopefully some of the body was retained. We'll see, they both tasted fantastic and I can't wait to try them in a week or so. I have been imbibing Kitchen Sink Ale and it tastes great! It turned out like an English Old Ale (think Great Divide Hibernation Ale). The color is great and the head on it sticks around for a good while. I really like it.

Kitchen Sink Ale, freshly poured from the tap
So, the taps will now be full in a couple of weeks and the feverish brewing schedule will calm a bit, though I'm not sure I want it to. I'll have to start focusing on some more sessionable (drink more than one in a sitting) ales after this. Any suggestions? I was thinking of starting with an Amber. I'm probably going to have a Lowell.Brewing Strong Ale Festival to start clearing the taps! Stay tuned, things are rolling and I'm loving the brews off the new system...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Lil' Slice of Heaven

Last Friday, I brewed an Avery Hog Heaven clone. This one was for my wife, Sally! She LOVES this beer...and so do I. Named it "Sally's Lil' Slice of Heaven". Man, the brew day was a long one! This was due to the fact that I didn't get a chance to clean the brewery after brewing Pliny the Brother last time. I was late for dinner at the in-laws' house and had to just rinse and run. Therefore, I had to spend a couple of hours cleaning the brewery before I could even start the new brew! Everything went fairly smooth. I used Whirlfloc in the boil kettle and that seemed to help flocculate the proteins and break and keep it on top of the false bottom when draining. Therefore, no clogging of the plate chiller! I still need to compensate for the holdup volume of my system when transferring out of the brewery into a fermentor. I always seem to boil down to 5 gallons and only get 4.5 in the fermentor. This may also be because the hot wort has expanded and the 5 gallons is really 4.5 in the Boil Kettle anyway. Maybe I'll just up my markings on my sight glass by 0.5 gallons. The gravity was a little lower than expected on the wort (probably b/c I had to chase the wort with water to reach 5 gallons and then I overfilled a little bit...whoops). Besides that, the beer has been fermenting quickly. I just threw the cooled wort on top of the Cal Ale yeast cake from Kitchen Sink Ale. I know some will poo-poo this move, but I had never done it and I want to see how it turns out. Once fermentation is close to complete I will add 4.5 oz. of Columbus hop pellets to dry hop...mmmmmmmm!

The Kitchen Sink Ale is on tap now, but I have not sampled it yet. It has to carb a little bit more. I put the keezer (kegerator made from chest freezer) on casters too, so I can easily roll it out to load kegs. I also hooked up a cooling system for the keezer. I have a glycol plate at the front of my tap tower with inlets and outlets. I used a liquid cooled computer processor cooler from CoolerMaster (Aquagate 80/120). I got it cheap off ebay and just ran new hoses and filled it with more coolant. There is also a small radiator and fan hooked up to the pump as well. This allows the fan to circulate the cool air around the keezer while at the same time cooling the taps. I hooked up a switch to the cooling unit, so I have the option of not running the thing all the time. Hopefully this means no more foaming beer when you pour! Check out the pictures below of the cooling system.

Cooling plate at front of the tap tower, glycol goes in one way and out the other
 Cooling radiator and fan in front pulling air through and out into the keezer. Cooling pump on right with hoses leading to the tap tower. CO2 manifold below with the Eva-Dry unit below to control moisture.

Top view of pump, radiator, and fan

Monday, January 31, 2011

Something's Brewin'...

So, the brewery finally got all hooked up and sync'd up with the controller and computer. The first test batch , Kitchen Sink Ale, was 2 weeks ago and I just threw together some Maris Otter base grain with some old specialty grains and hops I had laying around. It actually tastes pretty good right now in the fermentor. Tastes and looks like a Red with Columbus and Cascade hops, coming in around 7.5% ABV. This one brewed pretty smoothly without any MAJOR hitches (of course, there were a couple minor ones). Just yesterday, my brother and I finally got the chance to brew the beer we've been talking about brewing all year, a Pliny the Elder clone. I named it Pliny the Brother...clever, right? The brew day was great and it is always nice to share my passion of brewing with Jeff and have him get more and more excited about it...I'm pretty sure he'll be as hooked as I am in no time. My rockin' wife, Sally, also helped stir the cauldron. Check out the video below of the brew day: 

Here are some other photos of the day:
Moxie was apprehensive about the brewery in the garage and all the weird noises...he'll get used to it

Getting ready for brew day with some over-exaggerated smiles and thumbs-up...

Newly labeled control panel and pretty lights

Hot Liquor Tank steaming away, lid off for effect...not for heat loss!

Recirculating the mash (vorlaufing)

Jeff lending a hand cleaning kegs and creating a skating rink in the driveway

Boiling away in the kettle
All and all, the brewery is working out great and I am very happy that 6 months worth of work has paid off. It is much easier brewing now than it was before the new brewery. My back has been thanking me at the end of each brew day! There are a couple of minor issues like working out the temp calibration on the RIMS heater outlet and trying not to clog the plate chiller with hop debris and break. It will be a work in progress for a little while, but I am very happy with how it turned out. I never thought my little drawings on post-it notes would actually become what I have in the garage.

So, right now, Kitchen Sink Ale is 8 days into fermentation and activity has subsided. I will probably rack to the keg in a few days once it has completely dropped out and cleared. Pliny the Brother is bubbling away as I write this (check out the video). So far, it smells great and the color looks good. Let's hope for a nice clean fermentation. After that, we'll be dry hopping for about two weeks in a secondary fermentor! Now, I just have to keep the pace of brewing once a week up! It's easy when you have to fill 4 vacant taps, but might not be when we have to drink 5 gallons a week to make room for batches brewed once a week! We'll try our best to keep up...