A Northern Brewer

My Brewing In Hamilton.
birdandmoon:

Whew, done! Here’s a poster of western North American bird sound mnemonics. This one and my eastern one are in my store. Original is on my site here.


The olive-sided flycatcher is my kinda bird.

birdandmoon:

Whew, done! Here’s a poster of western North American bird sound mnemonics. This one and my eastern one are in my store. Original is on my site here.

The olive-sided flycatcher is my kinda bird.

(via ryannorth)

Iron and ̶ ̶w̶i̶n̶e̶ beer

 This Friday, tomorrow, will see the fourth year of the Iron Brewer take place at Cool Brewing in Toronto. The Iron Brewer is a friendly brewing competition amongst members of the Master Brewers’ Association of Canada (or MBAA – Ontario District) In it, 15 members who have applied for the honor to compete, and were then selected by lottery, are provided with identical bags of ingredients. These ingredients, generously donated by suppliers to the brewing industry, often include a couple of fun or unusual things. This year the ingredients included:

YEAST: 2 packets each of Mauribrew Ale 514, Lager 497 and Weiss

MALTS: Canada Malting’s Ontario Select, Munton’s Pale Ale, Weyermann’s Vienna, Great Western’s Dextra Pils, Briess’ Victory Malt, Franco-Belge’s Kiln Coffee, Weyermann’s Special W, Munton’s Roast Barley and Toasted Rye Flakes from OiO.

HOPS: Pellets: Goldings, First Gold & Target. Whole Cone: Chinook, Columbus, Golding & Willamette. Also- a coupon redeemable for Bertwell Hops.

SPICE: Cinnamon Sticks, Grains of Paradise

OTHER: An infusion stick of white ash wood and a tablet of Whirlfloc

And this year the participants included: Me! I was very happy to be selected to be an Iron Brewer!! As soon as I heard the good news, I began planning my brew. What would impress a room full of my peers? What would stand out amongst (what are sure to be) many excellent brews? What would a “Brewer’s Brewer” make???

I decided that either an Iced beer, or a Pilsner would fit the bill. Icing beer is a technique that is fairly rare even amongst very experienced brewers. Few brewers have had an opportunity to try it, I suppose. At least, whenever I’ve iced a beer before, I have been surprised by the rather impressed response it usually gets. As for Pilsners- well- a properly executed, true-to-style, crisp, perfectly balanced and delicious Pilsner is something that almost every brewer can really, really appreciate on at least one level. But the hops available- totes UK & US. Nothing Continental about them! And the closest thing to true Pils malt was the Ontario Select. I thought substitutions could be quite nice, but I would be losing the whole “To Style” thing. There are many blonde lager things. Most are not Pilsners. PLUS- I have never pulled off a Pilsner properly before. Yes, I’ve only tried once, but I was intimidated to try again. I remain intimidated! Lagers I can do. Lagers are easy. Pilsners are hard to get just right.

So- an Iced Beer it is! But what to ice? An Eisbock would be the traditional route, but I decided to do something a little creative in an attempt to recreate a delicious accident- when I accidentally “eised” an English brown ale, to wonderful results.

Also, Brown ales and Porters are two of the few styles where I find a “Kitchen Sink” approach works well. Most other recipes seem to benefit from the clarity of just a few well-selected ingredients, and become muddied or flabby from an excess of specialty malts- but English brown ales and porters actually seem to benefit from the over-complexity of too-many malts! (in my opinion, anyway)

So, when you ask me which malts I will use, I answer boldly: “ALL OF THEM”. And when you ask me which hops I will use, I will continue: “ALL OF THE PELLETS, AS CONES TEND TO CLOG MY SYSTEM UP, AND THE PELLETS ARE ALL UK VARIETIES ANYWAY, WHICH WORKS BETTER FOR MY PURPOSES.”

I brewed a volume large enough to split the batch- one half went into a bucket which went into a freezer. The other half went into a corny keg as a backup, and, haha, it’s a good thing it did because the same malfunctioning old freezer with a bum temperature control that caused me to accidentally ice some brown ale inspiring this whole farce, malfunctioned in the opposite way and caused me to accidentally ice ALL of my iron brewer brown ale. I was targeting about 25% concentration, but essentially froze all of it. I guess the alcohol was caught in amongst all the ice crystals? Right? I doubt that the tiny bit of liquid remaining was really the 4.5ish% alcohol in my brew, because, there is no way, right?? Who can say? Who knows about SCIENCE?? (I figure that if it was really that easy to make hard booze, we’d all have bigger freezers, right??)

Anyway, with plan A now ON ICE, I was left with a backup beer, that while lacking any major flaws and being totally sessionable, was an entirely brown sort of beer. This is a beer that you may develop a deep appreciation for after a 6th or 7th pint. After 10 pints you may just become devoted to it! But after one small sample, this lil’ brown ale was not going to set your world on fire. It’s just a lil’ English Brown, y’know?

SO- onto plan B. I still had the lager yeast and enough base malts to combine into a totally decent batch. But with a Pilsner requiring too much substitutions (and being too scary), I decided on a Maibock! A one-hundred-percent Berwell hopped Maibock! Fun! Unfortunately, by the time I was able to organize the hops, I wasn’t left with a whole lot of time for my high-alcohol lager to ferment. Just under 2 weeks to be precise. I began fermentation at 10 degrees Celsius, and raised it by half a degree every other day or so, until it reached 14.5 degrees. Yesterday I raised it to 20 to try and finish it off/do a Diacetyl rest. Tomorrow morning I will keg and force-carb it. Then I will taste it. If, somehow, it is not an under-attenuated, green and sweet lil’ fruity number- but rather a delightful Maibock with a unique hop character- then it will become my very-last-minute entry in the Iron Brewer. If it is as mediocre as I fear it may be, then it’s brown-towne for me. 

Wish me luck!! 

Here are some pics of my brew day(s)- which will also serve to show off my new system! (I haven’t made an update in awhile! Spleesh!)

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 Yes- I will take some of everything please. And a coffee. “The Most Important Brew Of The Day”

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 This was the plan, and it basically got followed, except I nixed the dry hop and the second runnings. 

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 Don’t kick the bucket if you’re over the mill. 

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Photo taken mere moments before malt spilly-times

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 After malt spilly-times, this arrangement was found to be more suitable.

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 About to mash in! Malt in the bag, Rye on the side please.

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This is what my brew room looks like. One end of it anyway. It is underneath the kitchen of my at-least-one-hundred-year-old Hamilton home. Probably lotsa ghosts captured in this shot too, but they are INVISIBLE. The brew equipment is situated in the remains of an old cistern! The house is situated in the remains of a unmarked mass burial ground!! (probably)  

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This is what the other end of it looks like! The barrel holds alot of my homebrew clubs (the HOZERS) sour ale! (and likely at least one ghost)

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 Mash Water heating up!!

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 Mash-In achievement: UNLOCKED

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 RYE BONUS LEVEL NOW PLAYABLE

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Now we rest.

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 The temperature loss after one hour.

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 What the Mash looked like after one hour! Mmmmmm. 

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 Time to warm up that mash with some recirculation! Here’s what it looked like, PREcirculation

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 Beginning the recirculation- the wort is drawn from the bottom of the mash, pumped into the auxiliary pot where it is warmed by an electric heating element, and then allowed to cascade back overtop the mash by gravity

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look at how I bend gravity to my will

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 gravity herself, once so fickle to me as a skateboarder, is tamed and harnessed in the production of my ales

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Recirculation done! Mash out UNLOCKED. Time to Lauter!

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 First Wort Hops, 1 oz EXACTLY- right on….. Target.

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 A view inside my kettle

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 Start the Lauter!

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 Continue the Lauter!

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 OK- Finish the Lauter! No more hot water from the HLT, time to drain the auxiliary tank

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 Like so!

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 Nearing the boil…

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 Hot Break!

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 my fancy imported hot break control aid

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 The pre-boil gravity

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 The boil!

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 Hops

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 and more hops

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 The wort chiller is added..

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 As is the Whirlfloc tablet. the yeast is retrieved from the freezer.

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 The whirlpool greatly aids the undersized wort chiller, the fermentor is sterilized and ready to go!

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 Ready to cast out! Me maties. Yarrhgh.

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 I aerate and monitor the temperature of my wort using this one weird trick

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 Aeration in action

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The yeast packets are pitched!

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 The aftermath of the brew…

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 The final gravity! It would have been higher, but I topped up to get a big volume. Besides, English ales are meant to be enjoyed in series, right? (Or even in parallel)

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 The brewday is complete! Everything is cleaned and brought outside to dry out.

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 The approximate fermentation temp

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 Fermentation is OVA

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 Nice rack!

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 Still- a pretty good rack!

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 One gets force-carbed. One gets put on ice. Is it cheating to add C02? C02 wasn’t in the bag, after all. But neither was priming sugar… hmmmm. Does the MBAA expect us to do a minimash for priming sugar or something? Cap the ferment or capture the C02? That would be some rheinheistgabot  styles right there.

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 Dude! you leaked everywhere! That’s cold.

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 hahahahah whoooops

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 All that was left in a liquid state in the bucket. This viscous nonsense tasted syrupy, chocolaty and intensely boozy. It was actually pretty excellent. NO REGRETS. ok, a couple regrets. 

 onto the Maibock!

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 all your remaining base malts- belong to us!

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 heirloom hops!

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 some mash hopping- an old technique to aid in filtration (suitable for my extra-fine crush here) that has found new converts in the hop head brewers of today! does it work?? who can say!? hops are magic

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 the mash

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 first wort hopping- another old technique, originally to aid in hot break control, also popular among modern hop heads. Hops are magic. Without a kettle screen on my auxiliary pot, all of the hops are placed into stainless balls instead.

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 The lauter. 

 Look Ma! No Sparge!

 ..good to the last drop

 

Skimming off the scum of the hotbreak..

 The Boil!

 After a 2 hour+ boil, a “whirlpool” with the wort chiller, no longer hopelessly undersized!

 Barely submerged!

 The fermentor- I’m proud of this- I had the dip tube welded shut to create an awesome thermowell for the temperature probe! The other post is where the blowoff tube attaches.

 The yeast of my concerns!

All done!

 The aftermath!

Gooey proteins coagulated onto the hops.. 

 The lagering chamber in action!

Well- that’s it for me! 

That was a long post- If you made it this far, YOU are the real IRON BREWER. Don’t you see??:  The Iron was inside you all along!

Quench Your Thirst: Ontario Brewing Awards

quenchyourthirst:

Well, the numbers are finally in. We’ve had 45 breweries submit this year and 212 total submissions. In 2012, we had 34 breweries and 165 entries so the brewing world in Ontario is alive, well and growing.

Here’s a list of participating brewers -

Amsterdam Brewing Co.

Bar Volo

Hey everyone! I have some exciting news-  

Up the street from my house in Hamilton there is a bar called The Ship, owned and operated by a buddy of mine. The Ship is one of the premiere craft beer bars in Hamilton -and it has had her license to brew for over a year now! All that has been missing is some equipment and know-how. All that has been missing is me! :) 

I was invited to brew, and that isn’t an invitation I often turn down! I developed a beer, did a pilot batch at home, and began volunteering my time for a couple of Sunday mornings now, before the kitchen opens. I have been brewing 30 litre batches ontop of the grill at The Ship, supplementing the heat from the grill with an electric heat stick. I’m proud to say that the beer is now ready for your consideration!

The Ship will host a launch party this coming Thursday- March 7th- and we will be kicking things off around 8!

We will have two versions of the beer on tap simultaneously- one more mellowed and boozy- with less hops, allowing more of the special ingredients to shine. The other is less boozy, but much more aggressively hopped.

ABOUT THE BEER:

The Ships Rations

The Ships Rations

The Ships Rations began with The Ship itself as inspiration. While considering the bar and thinking about what beer would be appropriate to serve as the inaugural brew for The Ship, no style of beer came to mind as quickly, nor seemed quite so appropriate, as the IPA. IPA or ‘India Pale Ale’ was first developed in England for shipment to India in the 1700’s. Today the style is enjoying a huge revival and is arguably the most popular type of beer amongst craft beer fans. Many modern versions of the style tend to veer towards the American reinterpretation of IPA- These wonderful brews are very bitter, fairly high in alcohol, and aggressively hop forward; favoring modern American high alpha acid varieties. As phenomenal as a modern IPA can be, The Ships Rations needed to be something a little different. Returning to the English origins of the beer, we find a brew that evolved to be extremely dry, very pale, and awfully bitter, so much so that it was described as undrinkable before aging had mellowed it. It had a very long aging time, at least a year before shipping was common, which also helped to make it a very clear and sparkling beverage, sometimes described as having a “champagne-like” appearance -indeed- it was occasionally known as “Bengal Wine”. The Ships Rations is a hybrid of old and new- with a twist. It shares some traits with old English IPAs, specifically the sparkling carbonation and the dry crisp finish. It is like modern IPAs in that it makes exclusive use of recently developed strains of high-alpha acid hops, specifically Citra & Simcoe. But it takes a lighter hand on hop character than most modern IPAs, which allows some interesting special ingredients to be incorporated. These exotic ingredients are Ginger, Molasses and Chinese Sugar Crystals. These ingredients are reminiscent of the Far East and the English colonial period- when spices, sugar, and molasses were loaded onto English ships- ships that returned loaded with Ale. The ginger helps to create a powerful aroma of cardamom on the nose (putting the “I” in IPA) and is perhaps more felt than tasted -as it creates a synergistic effect with the hops- increasing the perception of bitterness and leaving a pleasant, almost hot, bitter burn on the palette. The molasses add color and complexity, and the Chinese sugar crystals help to lighten the body and create a rather dry beer. The Ships Rations is approx. 6.5 percent alcohol by volume and approx. 70 IBUs. It is unfiltered, unpasteurized and unavailable anywhere else! The Ships Rations is a rather unique IPA that is probably not quite like any other beer you have tried! We are proud of it, and we will work to perfect it until it is refined into precisely the sort of beer that we have envisioned, and that Hamilton deserves.

 ABOUT THE PAINTING:

You can drink anything in Hamilton!Painting By Victor North

The Ships Rations painting draws upon the look and feel of vintage Canadian beer labels crossed with classic comic book covers! The image of The Ship is inspired by old-school tattoo culture, as well as the nautical imagery so common in beer labels and around The Ship herself. The colors Blue and Gold are the colors of the City of Hamilton, found on her flag, which is why this ship has golden sails on a blue sky. The inverted blue triangle upon which the ship sails represents Hamilton Harbour. The motto: “Together Aspire Together Drink” is a bit of a tongue-in-cheek play on the Hamilton motto “Together Aspire Together Achieve”. It nicely captures both the aspirational mood of modern Hamilton as well as the important (and often-overlooked in the craft beer world) social aspect of beer. Of course, it also reflects our own aspirations and hopes that we harbour, together, for The Ships Rations, The Ship, and the City of Hamilton! Here’s to all of your aspirations! Cheers!

http://theshipsrations.theship.ca/