June 18, 2017: Amber Ale Brew Day

With a the vast majority of the house projects started since purchase completed, it is back to brewing beer! We are starting with our tried and true Alex’s Amber Ale. This recipe is dialed in and it is extremely consistent. That being said, some substitutions were made due to sourcing limitations on home brew supply shopping day. Specialty grains and hops were purchased from CO Brew in Denver.

Brew Record: BrewLog

Grain bill:

  • 10 lb 2-Row (domestic)
  • 1 lb Pale (German) << Substitution for domestic
  • 1 lbs C-80 <<Substitution for C-75

Hops (Pellet) and other boil additions:

  • 2 oz German Magnum 13.3% alpha acids (60 minutes) <<Substitution for Magnum
  • 2 oz Cascade 6.3% alpha acids 6.6% beta acids(5 minutes)
  • 2 oz Amarillo 8.6% alpha acids 6.5% beta acids (5 minutes)
  • 1 table Whirlfloc (5 minutes)


  • Inland Island INISH007 American Ale blend package date 5/30/2017

New Equipment:

Admittedly, making this many changes to the recipe is not ideal, but combined with the brew equipment changes, this just may be a disastrous day.

Our day started late because we didn’t dry fit any of the equipment. If we had done this, we would have realized we needed some extra parts to make everything work. This set back our day and resulted in the extension of some steps of the process.

The day was also a wee bit windy and the propane burners could not maintain the desired vigorous boil. Evaporation was reduced, resulting in a higher volume of lower gravity wort.



Why the low efficiency? Our sparge was too fast. As seen in the gallery pictures, our brew space is set up under out deck on the some of the rare flat space on our property. We were unable to mount the sparge arm due to the low clearance and sparged through the vorlauf port. The fast sparge likely resulted in poor sugar extraction from the grain bed.

Other Issues:

We discovered the thermometer on the HLT reads 4 degrees high and the thermometer on the mash tun reads 4 degrees low. We completely undershot our target mash temp, but not nearly as bad as initially thought.

What the future holds

  • A brew shed. Currently our brew equipment is buried and it is a fight to set everything up. We could brew on the deck and have sufficient room for our sparge arm, but we would have to disassemble the brew tree to get it up the stairs. It would be nice to have a dedicated space to brewing.
  • Thermometer calibration
  • Purchased more valves. Goal was to use the whirlpool port on the boil kettle, but after thinking about the set-up, we realized we failed to purchase a valve that would help prevent the back flow of hot wort. This is a peril of failing to dry fit a new set up at least a week in advance.


Rainbow Lakes

Destination: Rainbow Lakes, Roosevelt National Forest

Date: 6/17/2017

Time of Day: 9:15 am start (What you say? No herd of turtles? A yard sale was even attended prior to the hike)

Distance/Elevation/Difficulty: 2.6 miles (total)/~396 feet/Easy

Time Elapsed: 120 minutes.

Comments: This is the second time we attempted this trail. The first time was the weekend of June 10th, when we discovered the road was closed to the trail head when we got to the gate across the road. We didn’t want to add an 8 mile round trip to our hike, so we decided to come back another day. Lesson learned – check this website for road closures ahead of time.

While we got an early start, we didn’t reach the trail head until 10 am. The last 4 miles of road are rough and narrow. Lower clearance cars can make it, but care must be taken to avoid the worst holes.

The trail started out relatively smooth near the Rainbow Lakes Campground (can access trail from campground), but became progressively more rocky at points. Nothing that required climbing on rocks, but careful foot placement would be wise. Trail did not have any steep areas.

This is a heavily trafficked trail and many people bring their dogs. The lake are supposedly well stocked so there are plenty of fishing poles being carried a well. We also heard a report of a moose at the second lake that is on the trail.

While this is a popular and heavily trafficked trail, it is not well marked. After reaching the first lake, we followed the trail until we reached a small snow field in the woods. On one side of the snow was what looked to be a well trafficked trail, and skirting the edge of the trail and going over a ridge was what appeared to be a social trail. We chose the wider trail. We chose poorly. The social trail was the actual trail and the wider, apparently well traveled path led to a dead end of downed trees. There were several other instances on the trail that a careful evaluation had to be done to select the correct way.

Alex was in a hiking mood and hiked the entire trail out and back. A great little trooper. This also explains why it took us so long to do a 2.6 mile hike.

Would we return? Definitely. We hope that we are able to enjoy the entire trail on our third go around. We here the view at the end is rather nice.


Denver Zoo

Destination: Denver Zoo, 2300 Steele Street, Denver, CO 80205

Date/Time: June 3, 9:45

Alex loves animals, so we decided to take him to the zoo for his birthday. This trip was a huge success. The Denver Zoo is very family friendly – you can bring your own food and drink (money saver!). Also, lots of families brought their own wagon for pulling the kids and food (we were not that smart, but next time). Unlike our standard herd of turtles approach, we were out of the house early and through the zoo gates at around quarter to ten. An earlier start is wise on beautiful, sunny weekend.

It was ungulate (hooved) animal week at the zoo. This meant that all the hooved animals were highlighted and there were some special activities going on. Like feeding the giraffes leaves! Alex absolutely loved this activity and said thank you to the giraffes when he was finished handing out leaves. Alex was also very excited to see the elephants.

In the North Shore area of the zoo, there is a great kid play area with a sand box and a ‘tidal pool’. Alex enjoyed the tidal pool immensely. It is amazing how wet he got splashing in water that was barely 2 inches deep in spots. We stopped for ice cream afterwards (Alex’s was free – part of the birthday bonus pack) and took off Alex’s pants to dry in the sun while we relaxed. Lots of sunshine and low humidity, his pants were almost dry in 20 minutes.

The zoo also has some great programs through out the day during feedings and show times. Check out the website. We found all the employees and volunteers to be very helpful and enthusiastic. There is also a carousel and train, but we are saving that fun for a future visit.

Peacocks, peahens, and geese roam freely on the zoo grounds. Be prepared to have a goose stare intently at you for food (don’t feed them) or witness a goose fight. The fuzzy goslings were adorable. Keeping Alex from chasing after the birds was challenging initially, but he quickly learned that walking near the birds was okay.

Fun fact: Giraffes have very long tongues (think foot plus) that they can wrap around objects they want to grip.