30 July 2005

Camel Cooler Premium - c. Mid 90s

Back in the 90s, when smoking was still only bad for you, and not yet considered murder by big business, cigarette companies gave premiums away if you bought a certain number of packs. Sometimes it was lighters, sometimes shirts, and every once in a while it was something practical!

Here is a 6-Pack Cooler from Camel Cigarettes that I ran across while cleaning out my storage unit. Just barely big enough to hold 6 cans of the beverage of your choice, this was a pretty nice premium. Salem came out with one about the same time.

Critics of the tobacco companies often accuse them of pandering to minors, but if that's the case, why did they give away twelve pack coolers with Winston, instead of with Camel?

At any rate, any beer vendors out there ought to beware. Right now, beer is just bad for you. But there are folks out there trying to make the case that beer is murder by large corporations, and they are working to eliminate it.

Oops. Sorry. Got off on one of my rants. Won't happen again.


posted by Jeff Holt at 08:11 0 comments links to this post

28 July 2005

Wine vs Beer: Americans making the switch

Over a Vivi's Wine Journal, there was a recent post about a drop in beer consumption and an increase in wine consumption.

There are a lot of reasons for this, but the most important reason, I think, is the result of the recent round of brewery consolidations. As smaller brewers are absorbed into the larger breweries, the large brewers, eager to expand their market share, discontinue the absorbed brews. That's exactly what happened with Celis when they were purchased by Miller Brewing. Suddenly, those three rows of Celis beer became three rows of Miller Lite. As Miller, Budweiser, and Coors fight for market dominance, they squeeze out the smaller breweries, leaving the beer consumer with the choice between Bud Light, Miller Lite, and Coors Light. Yum.

Wine, on the other hand, celebrates different styles. There's a range of flavors that can be experienced in wine that the Big Brewers have, basically, eliminated in the beer world.

In Fred Eckerdt's The Essentials of Beer Style, he makes an interesting observation: every time Budweiser reduces the amount of hops in their product, their share of market increases. In other words, the blander the beer, the more people will buy it. This is also applicable in the food industry as well.

Another factor in wine's expansion is what I call "snob appeal." In my day job I work in the travel industry. Our clientele used to be the upper middle class. As the employees saw what the bosses were doing they decided to emulate them, and now our business is comfortably middle to lower-middle class. These folks are enjoying the things their bosses and their bosses used to enjoy.

Check out the original article, it's a fun read.


posted by Jeff Holt at 12:06 1 comments links to this post

26 July 2005

Yeast

Beer can be divided into two basic types: Beer made with Top fermenting yeast, and beer made with bottom fermenting yeast. Or, Ales and Lagers

Ales were the first beers made. Ale yeasts ferment at warmer temperatures, usually around 40-50 F. At that temperature, the yeasts contribute some flavors to the beer, usually a fruity taste.

Lager yeasts were mastered in Germany, and ferment at 32-38 F. These yeasts ferment out clean, contributing little flavor to the finished beer.

Generally, you can use ale yeasts in Lager recipes, and vice versa, but you will get some flavor differences.

You can also ferment Lager yeast at ale temperatures. That's what Anchor Steam beer does. Back during the Gold Rush, people from around the world flocked to California to make their fortune. Brewers brought their lager yeast and set up breweries. But they couldn't cool the fermenters, so they used open, shallow trays. This procedure created America's only indigenous beer style, California Common.

Today, you can purchase yeast in bags (or smack packs) or in little test tubes. to use the smack packs, you have to burst a smaller bag inside the bag a day or two in advance. The test tubes just brought just have to be brought to room temperature to be pitched.

It's still possible to get dry brewers yeast. But normally that only comes in kits.


posted by Jeff Holt at 08:45 0 comments links to this post

24 July 2005

Hubert Wolters, Frontier Brewer

Hubert Wolters Rock Bluff Brewery c. 1878-1888 Hubert Wolters c. 1879

Hubert Wolters was born in August 21, 1846 in Braunsrath, Bavaria. He studied for the priesthood, then studied brewing in Baden Baden, and wound up serving in the Prussian Army in the Franco-Prussian War, where he earned the Iron Cross. In 1879, Hubert had emigrated to Texas, and married Augusta Lindner in Comfort, and set out for San Angelo. Federal records show his brewery in Ben Ficklen in 1878. It is possible that he started the brewery before he was married.

Hubert bought a wheat beer brewery from Eugene McCrohan and moved it to his farm, at 201 South Browning, which explains why the brewery is listed in both Ben Ficklen and Fort Concho. Later, Hubert bought the Star Saloon on East Concho Street and was a prominent citizen for several years. Hubert's daughter, Margaretha (Maggie), recalled, in 1958, that hemade "good beer and all kinds of soft drinks."

In the late 80s, there was a dairy near the brewery and stored the milk in the cellar. In the March 16, 1889 Standard, there was a notice that there would be a cut in milk prices. Two weeks later, the brewery burned to the ground. The report in the March 30 paper said "it is suspected that the recent cut in milk prices had something to do with the fire." In 1958, Maggie would say the fire was set by "envious friends."

After the fire, Hubert's health failed and he took his family on a three-month trip to Germany. Hubert died on March 23, 1891 in San Angelo. Augusta, her mother, died April 7, 1935. In 1919, Maggie married H. C. Voigt of San Angelo and lived in the home in which she was born until she died in 1964.

The interior of Wolters' Rock Bluff Brewery around 1884.

I wrote a book about the pioneer brewers of Texas. You can buy it here.

Labels:


posted by Jeff Holt at 08:29 0 comments links to this post

22 July 2005

The Old Set up

The photo was taken 8/12/2000. I don't have many pictures of me brewing. I was always too busy watching the pot for boilover. I started brewing outside to keep the mess down in the kitchen. On the left is my equipment collection, with sanitized fermenter ready to go. Behind me is my St. Pat's brew kettle on a way too small burner. I think I was using the wort chiller when the photo was taken.


posted by Jeff Holt at 17:01 0 comments links to this post

21 July 2005

Kegging vs. Bottling

Well, I tapped the Pre-Pro Ale today.

Hm. I hate kegging. I can never get a carbonated beer. And I hate washing bottles.

The beer is flat, and there is a distinct alcoholy-taste that I think is caused by some sort of contamination. I think we need to reveiw our sanitation procedures.

But I sure could use some advice about kegging. I've never had much luck with it.

The only saving grace about kegging is that it is quicker than the Colin Farrell sex video.


posted by Jeff Holt at 20:00 1 comments links to this post

20 July 2005

Brewing Schedule

7/25 - Brew Dark ale
8/1 - Transfer Dark Ale to Secondary
8/15 - Brew Cream Ale (Future Post)
8/22 - Transfer Cream Ale to secondary & Keg Dark Ale
9/9 - Brew Jul Øl & Keg Cream Ale
9/18 - Transfer Jul Øl to Secondary
10/09 - Keg Jul Øl

This all depends on my brewing partner's schedule, of course. We tried some Genesee Cream Ale the other day, and thought that would be good to try to brew. We'll probably try the Austin Homebrew recipe.


posted by Jeff Holt at 10:33 2 comments links to this post

18 July 2005

Drink Tower

The Drink Tower

Sometimes, you stumble across the oddest things. The Drink Tower is a way to dispense up to 168 ounces of a beverage. This would be fun at parties. My only question is, how are you gonna keep the beer cold?

This is priced a bit high, and is intended for restaurants.


posted by Jeff Holt at 07:59 1 comments links to this post

17 July 2005

Water

Beer is 95% water. The water you use in brewing contributes a lot to the finished beer.

Kind of.

The all grain brewer has to consider the makeup of his water, since the minerals in the water impact beer flavor during the mash. To make a perfect copy of a Pilsner Urquel, for example, the brewer might soften his water to get his water close to that in Plsen. Or harden it to make a Porter or Stout.

In the wine and spirits world, there are appellations. For instance, Champagne can only be made in one region in France. If you use the same grapes in Texas, you get Sparkling Wine, which is identical to Champagne, but not made in Champagne. Similarly, all Bourbon comes from Bourbon County in Kentucky. Everything else is whiskey.

This does not apply to the beer world. A stout brewed in Asia is very similar to a stout brewed in Dublin. Regions can give their name to beer styles, like Plsen did for Pilsener, but a pilsener can be brewed anywhere. You might have to change the chemical composition of your water, though.

For the extract brewer, it's much simpler. If the water is drinkable, it is brewable. You can filter your water to remove cholorine added by most cities, or you can boil the water to drive the chlorine out. Either way, that will improve your brewing tremendously. Some homebrewers use bottled spring water, some use tap water. My brewing partner has a well so we're using well water.


posted by Jeff Holt at 19:57 1 comments links to this post

16 July 2005

Keg Day

We kegged the hefeweiss yesterday. It had cleared up nicely, and smelled wonderful.

We filled one of my kegs first, and then filled one of my partner's. However, we couldn't get the lid to seal.

It made me a little angry that I had referred my friend to St. Pat's for kegs, mainly because I never had a problem with them. So he follows my advice, and gets a keg that won't seal.

I looked, briefly at the keg, and the opening of the keg and a nice ding in it that prevented the lid from seating correctly. I'm sure that with a bit of massaging we can get it to work, but we were trying to keg. We quickly cleaned another keg, and got his filled. After cleaning up, we planned to brew my dark ale in a week or so.


posted by Jeff Holt at 10:10 0 comments links to this post

14 July 2005

Hops

The hop plant is a tall, climbing plant, distantly related to the cannabis plant, the nettle, and the elm. Hop cones, used in brewing, are only produced by the female plant beginning around July. The hop cone is formed from petals, and on the inside of the petals is where the lupulin is formed. The volatile oils in the lupulin are what is used to flavor and preserve beer. The hops are harvested in September, then dried before they are used in brewing.

Hops add a bitter flavor to beer as well as a pleasant aroma. They also prevent beer spoilage from certain micro-organisms, and enhance the foam on beer. Most hops sold in homebrew shops are rated by the Alpha Acid percentage. This number is measured by their weight versus the weight of the whole flower. So an AAU of 6% means that 6% of the weight of the hop is alpha acid resins. These resins are not water soluble and must be boiled for the resins to dissolve.

There are some hops that are called bittering hops, and others are called aroma hops. Bittering hops are boiled along with the wort the entire length of the boil. They yeild all of their flavor to soften the sweetness of the malt. Examples of bittering hops are Brewers Gold, Centennial and Galena. Their Alpha Acid percentage can range from 6-14%.

Aroma hops are only boiled a short while and lend, somewhat obviously, their aromas to beers. The shorter these are boiled, the more aromatic the beer. Their AA percentage ranges from 2 to 8%. Some aroma hops are Kent Golding, Cascade, Mount Hood, and Fuggles. Some Aroma hops are so connected with beer they are called Noble Hops. These are usually the best for lagers. There are only four Noble Hops: Hallertauer Mittelfrüh, Tettnanger Tettnang, Spalter Spalt, and Czech Saaz.

Since alpha acids can vary from batch to batch of a specific hop, some recipe writers use Home Brewing Units to indicate how much hops should be used. (See my previous post).


posted by Jeff Holt at 06:40 0 comments links to this post

12 July 2005

Reinheitsgebot

The Reinheitsgebot is a German beer purity law from 1516. It is one of the oldest consumer protection laws still enforced.

The most famous provision of the law is ". . .the only ingredients used for the brewing of beer must be Barley, Hops and Water." Yeast is not mentioned, mainly because no one had discovered it. Notice that wheat is missing. This law limited what could be used for brewing and kept wheat in the hands of the bakers. It wasn't until the 17th century that the German aristocracy was given special permission to make wheat beer.

The Reinheitsgebot does limit the styles of beer that can be produced. In Belgium, for example, practically every brewery has its own style. The Reinheitsgebot also restricts most American beers, which use corn and/or rice in their formulation to lighten the body of the beer.

It's all well and good to only brew according to the Reinheitsgebot, but you're missing out on a whole world of beer flavors.


posted by Jeff Holt at 10:11 0 comments links to this post

09 July 2005

Calculating HBUs

While I decide whether or not to teach a homebrewing class, I thought I would put some things together that I could use in the class. These will come in no particular order and follow no particular rhyme or reason for when I post. I just felt like it.

Some recipes don't specify hop varieties, mainly because the alpha acid content is hops can vary. Instead these recipes call for HBUs or Home Bittering Units. The final recipe will usually have a IBU (International Bitterness Unit) rating to indicate what the final bitterness of the beer will be. If you brew to style, these figures are vital!

HBUs are calculated by multiplying the AAU (Alpha Acid Unit) of a hop by the number ounces being used. So a pilsner recipe, for example, can have a listing for hops like this:

6 HBU for 60 minutes
10.5 HBUs for 30 minutes
3 HBUs for 10 minutes

If you only have one type of hop on hand, you can still brew to style if you know the AAU of your hops. All you have to do is plug the known values into the equation to solve for the unknown values.

But I'm a visual guy, not a mathematician. So I created a little chart to help me solve the formula.

calculate HBUs

With this chart, I can visually see that across the bottom you should multiply, and to find the values on the bottom, divide the top value by the opposite bottom value. So, if I have Saaz hops on hand with an AAU of 3%, I would use 2 ounces of Saaz for 60 minutes, 3.5 ounces for 30, and 1 ounce for 10 in the above example.


posted by Jeff Holt at 12:15 0 comments links to this post

07 July 2005

Seasonal Beers

There are times when only a certain beer will satisfy. A nice barleywine or other "big beer," with lots of alcohol, are nice in the winter. In the summer, on the other hand, a nice, crisp wheat or light lager is a perfect thirst quencher.

I know the first seasonal beer I'll do will be a Jul Øl ("Yule Ale"). I got the recipe from a Zymurgy magazine a few years ago. Here's the recipe that I used:

Jul Øl

1 lb 20L Crystal malt
1 lb 90L crystal malt
2 oz roasted barley
7 lbs amber DME
4 oz malto dextrin
1/2 lb brown sugar
1 oz Chinook 10% AA for 45 minutes
1 oz Chinook 10% AA for 1 minute
2 vanilla beans, chopped
1 tsp crushed Cardemom seed

Steep the grains in 2 gallons at 155 F for 30 minutes. Strain. Add DME and matlodextrin and boil for 15 minutes. Add 1 oz hops. Boil 30 minutes. Add 1 tsp of Irish moss. Boil 14 minutes. Add 1 oz hops. Boil 1 minute. Turn off heat and add vanilla bean and cardmom. Cool wort and pitch with Wyeast 1056 or 1272.

Unfortunately, in my records I don't have any stats for this. I remember this as a very nice beer. I would have preferred a bit more vanilla flavor in it, but otherwise, it was perfect!


posted by Jeff Holt at 07:48 0 comments links to this post

06 July 2005

Planning

Back when I brewed every weekend, I always brewed a different recipe every time. One week it would be a pale ale, the next a stout, the next a peach wheat, the next a dopplebock (I called mine "Exasperator"), then a California Common, then maibock, and so on and so on. I very seldom brewed anything twice.

Toward the end of my brewing days, I cut back on the wide variety of beers, and basically brewed six or seven different beers over and over again. One was Hookarm's Dark Ale, another was sour mash beer, one was a pale ale, the other a stout, and then a Christmas beer called Jul Øl ("Yule Ale").

I thought that by brewing the same things over and over, I would get better at them. I was only able to complete my experiement twice before I lapsed from the hobby.

Now as I slowly get back into homebrewing again, I want to resurrect the plan, and trim some deadwood. I want to brew three beers and a couple of seasonals. And since we won't brew every weekend, that should give me enough variety to keep me focused.

Next time, the seasonals I want to brew, and why.


posted by Jeff Holt at 18:53 0 comments links to this post

05 July 2005

Beer Updates

Williams Classic American Ale

We kegged the Williams Classic American Ale kit yesterday. The Final Gravity was 1012. It tasted very good when we put it in the keg. See the final stats below. I put 20 lbs of CO2 on it, and put it into the refrigerator. Tomorrow, I'll add more CO2. Then in two weeks, I'll give it a taste.

Austin Homebrew Supply Hefeweiss

We transferred the beer to secondary fermentors. The Gravity was 1012. It was very sweet with a nice honey taste. I've never added honey to a hefeweiss before and I was curious how that would turn out. We intend to keg in a couple of weeks.

I am pleased with how these beers have turned out. I was afraid I would be rusty, but so far. . .


posted by Jeff Holt at 06:20 0 comments links to this post

04 July 2005

I had to do it

I have a confession to make. I collect breweriana from texas breweries. Today I was searching on eBay and ran across a 1908 sign advertising High Grade beer from the Galveston Brewery.

So I bought it for $160. Now I have to figure out where I'm going to display it.


posted by Jeff Holt at 07:24 0 comments links to this post

03 July 2005

Big Decision

My brewing partner has suggested I teach a homebrewing class for community education.

I'm flattered that he thought I would do well, and I do have a degree in education. But I've been out of the class room for a decade now, and more than a little self-conscious about speaking in front of a group.

However, I am seriously considering it. If we could get a class together, we might even be able to get a local homebrew club going. It's always easier, and more fun, to brew with other people around. Even though I'm not much of a joiner, this might be a fun club.

One of the major obstacles to me teaching a class is my somewhat erratic schedule. On Tuesday through Friday I can work until 8 pm, or I could get off at 6 pm. I suppose I could teach the class on Monday nights, since I always get off at 6 pm on Mondays.

Anyone have any advice?


posted by Jeff Holt at 08:56 0 comments links to this post

01 July 2005

Cooling Wort

As summer continues to heat up in the Texas Hill Country, cooling the wort gets more and more difficult. My brewing partner has a well and the water is reasonably cold, but by the time we run it through the immersion wort chiller we can only get it down to about 85F. So I've been thinking about chilling wort.

I have one immersion wort chiller, a coil of copper I immerse in the hot wort and run cold water through. I suppose I could buy another one, put it in a bucket of ice water and then run it through the chiller in the wort. There a diagram on this page.

But what about ice? I'm a fan of Good Eats, starring Alton Brown. On one show, "Amber Waves," he demonstrated homebrewing. His recipe called for 4 gallons plus 1 pint of bottled spring water, and a 7 lb. bag of ice. Here are the directions for cooling the wort directly from the recipe:

. . .put the last gallon and 1 pint of water as well as the bag of ice into the fermenter and fit the top with the colander and mesh strainer. Strain the mash into the fementer and allow to cool to 80 degrees before pitching the yeast. Once the mash is cooled to 80 degrees it is now safe to add the yeast. . .

Several homebrewing experts, including Annapolis Homebrew, How to Brew, and Brew Organic, say this is a bad idea, because the ice might contain some bacteria that will spoil the beer. None of them say it defintely will spoil the beer, but that it might.

Over at Brew Talk, folks are on both sides of the issue. It sounds like a litte experiment is in order.


posted by Jeff Holt at 18:01 2 comments links to this post