We brewed our Brown Ale November 20, hoping to add another well done beer to our taps. During fermentation we were concerned due to the thin mouth feel and non-existent hop character. Brown ales are not traditionally big, hoppy beers, but we were not happy with what we were tasting.
We decided to dry hop with 1 oz Northern Brewer hop pellets (7.6% alpha acids) upon transfer to the conical fermentation vessel, 72 hours prior to cold crash.
We were very pleasantly surprised with this beer. This is not a big beer; it has hints of malt and hops on the aroma. The flavor was malty. The color has a hint of red and the clarity is good. Head an foam lacing are fantastic. It is also nice to have beer on tap at approximately 5% ABV (rather than 8 – 9%).
We are will look to make some changes to the recipe. Initial thoughts include increasing the flaked oats to 1 lb and the Caramunich III 60L to 1.5 – 2.0 lbs. The Crystal 75L will be decreased and perhaps changed to a different malt. Although, it will be a pleasure to drink this brown ale in its current incarnation.
We brewed our Imperial Amber Ale October 29, hoping to replicate the success of our August brew. The clarity was decreased slightly (okay, it is still a pretty clear beer, just not so clear that you can read a car’s license plate through it). Changes between the brews were
Cascade went from whole hops to pellets. We wanted pellets originally, but our local home brew shop did not have pellets in stock when we brewed in August.
Went from 1/2 tablet Whirlfloc to 1 tablet. This may be the cause of our clarity issue, since too much Whirlfloc can be a bad thing in regard to clarity.
We are still very happy with Alex’s Imperial Amber. Hop aroma contributes a floral/citrus character; there is also malt and a dried cherry component to the aroma profile. Due to a over vigorous boil, our yield was slightly reduced, so all we can do is enjoy a home brew and make some more.
If we manage to brew this for a third time and achieve similar results, a good beer brewing streak will be established.
We brewed our base Imperial Porter recipe October 22 hemming and hawing over the addition of vanilla and bourbon. We decided to go for it and added vanilla beans at secondary fermentation and bourbon at packaging (~68 mL bourbon/gallon beer).
We did our initial tasting while we were both suffering head colds and were disappointed in how it turned out. Not much roasted character, hardly a hint of vanilla, and just tasted thin. Then our sinuses cleared, and what a difference a clear nose makes.
The roast character was immediately apparent, the mouth feel was fuller. The vanilla was more present, but there is room to add more. The bourbon mellowed nicely after a week with the beer; next time we brew this beer we want to impart bourbon character without adding bourbon or aging in a barrel (bourbon barrel pieces in secondary?).
The porter had a third taster. The HVAC guy saw our brewing equipment in the basement and got to jawing with Dave. Turns out the HVAC guy loves porters and was more than happy to taste test ours. He likes a little more vanilla character (we concur), but overall enjoyed the beer.
We are very happy beer drinkers with both of these beers.
Wyeast 1272 American Ale II (#1001271, mfg 9/27/2016)
Starting gravity: 1.070
Brewhouse efficiency: 73%
Final gravity: 1.002
Approximate %ABV: 8.798
Approximate IBUs: 108.1 (Rager)/109.5 (Tinseth)/11.4(Daniels) as determined using the Hopsteiner and Homebrewing.com IBU calculators.
Procedure Highlights: We transferred our strike water to the mash tun using a silicon hose and lost less heat than we had anticipated. The end result was we mashed in at 73 degrees Celsius. We quickly added ice and brought the temperature down to 67 degrees Celsius, which was lower than our target of 69 degrees Celsius.
The wort was oxygenated for 45 seconds prior to pitching the yeast slurry. The yeast starter culture was cold crashed after approximately 18 hours of growth in 10% DME (w/v) media. The cold crash was to arrest metabolism and settle the yeast so excess liquid could be decanted.
After a week in the primary fermenter (Spiedel), the beer was transferred to a metal conical bottom fermenter and kept at approximately 19 degrees Celsius (ambient temperature) for 48 hours. The beer was sampled and no acetaldehyde character was detected. The fermenter was then transferred to -2 degrees Celsius freezer for the cold crash.
A vigorous boil resulted in a lower volume of sweet wort.
Our efficiency was similar to the last time we brewed our Amber Ale.
The lower volume of sweet wort resulted in a slightly higher original gravity (1.070 vs 1.065). This resulted in an approximately 0.7% increase in ABV.
Simply, sigh. We chose this brewery because it was easy cycling distance from our campground. We tried all the beers available and were underwhelmed. The lone bright spot was the California Cream Ale – not overly sweet, nice aroma and flavor. The Alpine Amber was a good example of a specific style, but slightly heavier on the hops than we would have expected for an amber. The Wit had very little spice character and was rather bland. The food was decent, nothing to rave about.
Jack Russell Farm Brewery
Located in Camino, CA, this brewery is located in the Apple Hill region, which refers to the 55 ranches located around Camino. Originally known for pear orchards, blight forced ranchers to diversify in the mid 1960s and is become the largest concentration of apple growers in California. The area is home to Christmas tree growers, wineries, vineyards, and a spa. We weren’t prepared for this area to have so many activities and only planned enough time to visit the brewery. Despite its name Apple Hill has year round activities, so if you are going to be in the area check out this site to plan your trip!
Back to Jack Russell! One of Jess’ master brewer classmates, Teri, works for Jack Russell, so we decided to stop in and visit. Since we didn’t do any research into the area, we were surprised to see all the people and activity surrounding the brewery (see previous paragraph). Since it was lunch time, we were especially happy to see the Hotdogger from Davis, CA! This was part of our Saturday farmer’s market routine – buy some fresh California veggies and fruit and chow down on a hot dog or Polish sausage for lunch before riding home. The Hotdogger was as good as we remembered.
So beer! There were fifteen beers on the board and lockers for Alex to play in, so we ordered tasters of them all! (Note – the intent of the lockers was not for a toddler to play in them, but they were Alex sized and he found them greatly entertaining.) We enjoyed all fifteen beers. There wasn’t a bad one in the bunch, not even a meh beer by our tastes. The only beer where there was a minor difference of opinion was the Vanilla Stout. Jess wanted a smidge more roasted character to the beer, Dave enjoyed it as it was brewed. We left with a growlerette (32 oz) of the Vanilla Stout and enjoyed it with s’mores by a campfire. This was a truly minor quibble on Jess’ part over a well executed beer line up. Some other beers we found to be striking was the Pumpkin Spice Ale – it smelled like pumpkin pie fresh out of the oven, but the spice flavor was not overwhelming, just enough there to satisfy. We enjoyed the Tangerine (light and refreshing) and the Captain Boomer’s IPA (well balance malt and hop character, bitterness was not overwhelming). We left with growlerettes of the Tangerine and Captain Boomer’s IPA in addition to the Vanilla Stout. The only reason we did not leave with more was limited storage space in our fridge.
We were glad we took Abby down the hill from Lake Tahoe to visit Jack Russell. It was great to see Teri, even though the steady stream of customers made it hard to catch up. It is a fantastic brewery producing excellent beers. Located in a family friendly area, there are many activities to occupy one’s time. We wish we had planned properly, but look forward to a return trip.
When we selected Newport, Oregon as a destination, it was not because of Rogue. It was a larger town that had a laundromat, an aquarium (which we did not take Alex to due to poor time management), and a state park with easy beach access (South Beach State Park). So we were excited that Google search results returned Brewer’s on the Bay – the restaurant within the Rouge brewery. It was just a 8 minute bike ride from the campground! The situation had the feel of a well executed plan!
We had to walk through part of the brewery to reach the restaurant; just a glimpse of the facility, but great to see. Upon reaching the restaurant (above the gift shop) we snagged a seat by the window that also had easy access to a power outlet so we could plug in Alex’s portable DVD player. Our taster consisted of Marionberry Braggot, Hazeluel Choctaulous, Mocha Porter, Rogue Farms 4 Hop IPA, Chocolate Stout, Dead Guy Ale, and the Cherry Habenero Golden Imperial Ale. We discovered the marionberry is to Oregon as the huckleberry is to Montana. It is in everything and it is tasty (also as a sauce for their deconstructed cheese cake). We enjoyed every beer on the taster. The Cherry Habanero was intriguing with the sweet from the cherry being the first taste, followed by a heat of the habanero. Jess is a fan of heat more so than Dave, but the heat was too much for her to enjoy more than what was in the taster. We were pleasantly surprised by the 4 Hop IPA; we were more familiar with Rogue’s double chocolate stout, but found that the IPA was well balanced and very drinkable.
This recipe was adapted from Experimental Homebrewing. This recipe will require us to expand our techniques in making a cacao tincture and adding lactose at packaging. Ingredients marked with a * were substitutions from the published recipe.
All supplies were purchased at Hops and Berries in Fort Collins, CO. Grain suppliers varied.
14 lbs Maris Otter
0.5 lb Crystal 40L
1 lb Flaked Oats
1 lb Flaked Barley
1.25 oz Target (UK) 11.1% alpha acids*
0.75 oz Crystal 4.8% alpha acids
Wyeast 1318 London Ale III (#0829188, mfg 7/6/2016)
Defatted cacao extract (4 oz raw cacao nibs soaked in 6 oz Kirkland vodka for 24 hours, strained, placed in freezer to solidify fat for removal)
Cold brewed coffee extract (1 c. ground coffee soaked in 3 c. water overnight, strained)
Yeast was propagated in 1 L of media (0.5 c DME in 1L/~1qt water, boiled) in a 2L flask with stir bar that had been sanitized with boiling water. Media was inoculated from Wyeast Smack Pack. Propagation culture was grown at room temperature with stirring for 15 hours and was pitched directly into the cooled, oxygenated wort.
Strike temperature was 75.5 degrees Celsius. A ~2:1 water to grist ratio was achieved with 12 liters of water. Mash in temperature was 67.7 degrees Celsius, which was the desired target. Mash out was conducted at 77 degrees Celsius. Sparging was a combination fly/batch and was conducted at 75 degree Celsius until the volume of sweet wort in the boil kettle was approximately 9 gallons. Hydrometer reading of the last wort remaining in the mash tun was 4.0 Brix.
Sweet wort was brought to a vigorous boil and boiled for 90 minutes. All hop addition times are listed as time remaining in the boil. Target pellets – 60 minutes; Crystal pellets, and 1/2 tablet Whirlfloc – 10 minutes. After whirlpooling and allowing the trub to settle, the hopped wort was cooled to 20 degrees Celsius with a counter-flow plate chiller with a recirculating ice/water slurry. The hopped wort was oxygenated via an oxygen tank for 60 seconds. The yeast propagation culture (~800 mL) was pitched into the Speidel fermenter. The fermenter was placed in an incubator that was set to a maximum temperature of 20 degrees Celsius.
Primary fermentation was approaching completion at approximately 100.5 hours. Acetaldehyde was detected around 64 hours and was less noticeable at 100.5 hours. Green was transferred to secondary fermenter and was kept at 70 degrees Celsius for approximately 48 hours. The fermenter was then chilled to -2 degrees Celsius which will help precipitate proteins and any remaining yeast cells. The cold incubation proceeded for two weeks since we were traveling for vacation.
The beer was then transferred to a 1/3 keg. Also added to the keg were the specialty ingredients listed above. The keg was sealed, pressurized to 30 psi, and then rolled. Pressurization and rolling was repeated once. Tasting notes will follow.
The specific gravity was lower than anticipated. During our boil, we reduced the vigor which then reduced the evaporation and thus concentration of the hopped wort. However, comparing the total Brix of the sweet (114) and hopped (91) worts, the hopped wort was approximately 20 points lower than expected. It is possible that our volume was larger than estimated, indicating that we reduced the heat too dramatically during our boil. This may result in higher DMS concentrations.
Acetaldehyde was released by the yeast, as determined by the ‘cidery’ smell during fermentation, noted around 40 hours. The aroma was less noticeable around 60 hours.
The fermentation was slower than expected. Yeast strain attenuates 70 – 75% and finishes slightly sweet (WYeast Technical Bulletin).
Initially lactose amount was 1 lb, but was reduced due to the under attenuation observed and the yeast characteristic of finishing slightly sweet; we were concerned of having the final product too sweet.
We are thrilled with the results of our first Colorado home brew. The color is a robust amber and the beer is clear. It is like looking through amber colored glasses. The head is white and generates lovely lacing as the glass is drained.
The aromas are of malt, dried cherries, with hints of floral and citrus. On the palate, this beer is malt forward followed by a mild bitterness. Despite the high calculated ABV, there is no alcohol burn when drinking this beer.
Only challenge we face now is reproducing this beer consistently. We hope we are wildly successful in that goal.
We visited three breweries on this trip. Best part of our tasting notes? Done in crayon on the back of the children’s menu/activity sheet.
The Grizzly Paw Brewing Company, Canmore, Alberta, Canada: Parking in Canmore is a bit challenging, especially if you have an RV. Made even harder by the the city placing signs directing one to RV parking well after the turn for downtown. Ah well.
We tried Rutting Red Elk, Grumpy Bear Honey Wheat, Powder Hound Pilsner, Big Head Nut Brown, Beaver Tail Raspberry Ale, Rundlestone Session Ale, Big Head Nut Brown, Sleeping Buffalo Stout, and the Evolution IPA. Both the Raspberry and Honey Wheat were well done without the raspberry or honey flavor being overwhelming or the beers being overly sweet. Overall, the beers were well done and were true to the menu descriptions. The Beaver Tail Raspberry Ale was our favorite.
Food was fabulous. Kid’s menu served chicken tenders with a plum sauce. Rather delicious. Shaved prime rib sandwich and elk burger were executed well. The classic poutine was rather tasty.
Take the time to find parking and stop in for food and beer.
Banff Avenue Brewing Company, Banff, Alberta, Canada: This brewery is a little odd to get to – it is on the second floor of a strip mall on Banff Avenue.
We tried Banff Avenue Blonde, Lower Bankhead Black Pilsner, Head Smashed IPA, Pond Hockey Pale Ale, and Walk a Mile ISA. Unfortunately the Blood Orange Hefenweizen and the Red Ale (supporting the local SPCA) were tapped out. Beers were average, nothing really excited us. We did like the Black Pilsner the best of all the ones we tried.
Food was good. We started with the classic poutine (gravy not too salty) and had the bison burger and venison smokie for lunch.
Check these folks out on a Friday after 4 pm. This is when they tap the cask of the week.
Ten Sleep Brewing Company, Ten Sleep, WY: We found this brewery when we discovered Clear Creek Brewing Company was closed on Wednesday, the day we were passing through. Ten Sleep’s story is intriguing so we decided to give their beers a try. After some questioning of Google Maps’ logic in route selection, we arrived safe and sound.
We tried four beers of the five beers on tap – No Name IPA, Pack Saddle Porter, Huck and Tuck Wheat, and the Outlaw Amber. We enjoyed all the beers but were the most impressed with the IPA and Porter. The IPA was well balance with a lingering, but not unpleasant bitterness. Aroma was citrus with herbal undertones. The Porter was rich and smooth with a roasted and chocolate aromas. We left with a growler of each and discovered later that the Porter pairs very well with s’mores. Porter had a fantastic head, even after two days in a growler bumping around an RV refrigerator.
Definitely worth a visit if are in the approximate area. Owners are friendly and fun to chat with. Small family owned and run place. They also have chickens that served as great entertainment for a toddler. Check out their website, they also host concerts. Favorite brewery of the trip.
Here is a list of the breweries we wanted to visit, but were out of sync with their days/hours of operation. We will just have to check them out the next time we tour the Northern Rockies.
We took Abby and Alex on their first international border crossing. Well, at least Abby’s first border crossing with us. We went to Canada with the motorcycle group that Dave is a member of; this trip is biannual tradition for at least 20 years. Unfortunately, we did not take Dave’s motorcycle on this trip. The logistics were rather complex and we decided it would be easier if everyone was in Abby.
The drive from Delaware to Saint-Alphonse Rodriguez, Quebec took two days. Our first day’s destination was the Lake George Battlefield Park, in Lake George, NY. We arrived literally right behind another member of the group. Following tradition, we ate at Adirondack Brewery, a short walk away from the campground. The next morning, we ate breakfast at the Hot Biscuit Diner in Ticonderoga, NY. Despite having his own breakfast, Alex decided Jess’ biscuits and sausage gravy looked tasty and needed two spoons to get it into his mouth fast enough. Another bonus of the route that we took from Lake George to Canada was the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream stop.
We crossed into Canada at the I-89 border crossing. As we approached the crossing we realized we didn’t know what lane to chose. Looking at the pictures on the signs (since all the writing was in French. Quebec, perhaps you are ignoring Canada’s dual language law?), we determined we were not a bus and not a car. But what were we? We selected the lane that looked the most like us, which had a truck shaped picture above it.
We pulled up to the booth and the border agent started speaking to us in French. Dave inquired if he spoke English, which the agent responded in the affirmative. He asked for our passports and Dave did not hear what he said. When Dave asked the agent to repeat himself, the agent inquired if we spoke English. Things were off to a good start.
The agent asked us if we were carrying any weapons (knives, guns, pepper spray). We had the bear spray in the RV from our Western trip and we declared that because the agent seemed like he would classify that as a weapon. The agent inquired, ‘For the spraying of bears?’. We bit our tongues and refrained from replying ‘Bears and snarky border crossing agents.’ Satisfied that bear spray was for protection from bears, the agent then asked us what our commercial load was. When we declared none, we received a lecture that we had used the commercial truck lane and were actually classified as a ‘minivan-camper’ and should always use the car lane. Well. Lesson learned. After a few more minutes of our tongue lashing, a real commercial truck pulled in behind us and the agent directed us on our way.
We arrived at Saint Alphonse-Rodriguez and set up camp at a children’s camp. This camp is traditional in the sense that all campers are exposed to a wide variety of activities – canoeing, archery, art, and a ropes course. What really surprised us is the area, which was not experiencing the best fortunes two years ago, is booming. The group found out that the children’s camp will be in operation for one more year, and then it will be sold to condo developers. It was rather fitting that the weekend was gray and rainy.
With the weather, we did not have the opportunity to paddle the lake and critique Canadian lake houses. There is always, however, Staner’s. We purchased some smoked meats, cheese, and bread. We walked down the street to the gas station for the wine. It was a relaxing afternoon as Alex napped. Later in the evening we participated in a beer tasting arranged by one of the members and got to enjoy some beers we normally wouldn’t have chose for ourselves. Alex enjoyed running around and visiting with all the different people. There were a couple of parrots and a dog that he enjoyed playing with.
Returning to the United States was much less eventful than Canada. We chose the proper lane. The border agent did board Abby to obtain a visual of Alex. The agent was slightly incredulous that we were only bringing back a sticker, but accepted the explanation that we ate and drank all our other purchases while in Canada.
Our 2015 trip out west was ambitious. We were always on the move and didn’t have many rest days to explore. However, we did manage to include a few fun side trips into our itinerary.
Little Devil’s Tower; Custer State Park, SD:
The trail head for this hike in Custer State Park (see trail map) originates at Sylvan Lake. We did not finish this hike because of time constraints – we had to make sure we got back to our campsite before dark. We really enjoyed the hike and wish we had planned our time better. Multiple trails leave the confines of Custer State Park and enter the Black Elk Wilderness. What was really unusual compared to other parks is that pets were allowed on the trails, but had to be leashed. It was a nice experience being able to take Penny and Chewie with us. We also had Ergo as Alex’s carrier; he was getting to heavy to be able to hike long distances comfortably in this carrier.
Conceived by South Dakota historian Doane Robinson, carving likenesses of famous people in the Black Hills region was done to increase tourism. The sculptures were done by Danish-American Gutzon Borglum and his son, Lincoln Borglum. The elder Borglum was instrumental in the selection of Mount Rushmore (the original site, the Needles, had poor quality granite and was opposed by Native Americans) as well as selecting the presidents (George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln) to be carved in the mountain.
Initially, the presidents were supposed to be depicted from head to waist, but poor quality rock and a lack of funding resulted in the monument we are familiar with today. Construction began in 1927 and ended in 1941, notably with no fatalities.
We walked the trail with Alex, starting down the Presidential Trail towards the Sculptor’s studio. This path wound around and took us under the sculptures. This route had numerous steps, which tired Alex out quite nicely. We completed our loop and returned to the Avenue of Flags; the remainder of the trail after the sculptures was handicap accessible. We ended our visit with vanilla ice cream made following Thomas Jefferson’s recipe.
Built starting in the fall of 1881, the line was constructed to haul silver and gold ore from the San Juan Mountains in southwest Colorado by the Denver & Rio Grande Railway. The line was completed by July of 1882 and began to haul passengers and freight. The narrow gauge was selected by William Jackson Palmer, a former Union General and experienced railroad man, as it would be well suited to the mountainous country and would have lower construction costs.
We took the bus from Durango to Silverton and rode the train back. We kenneled the dogs at Durango Pet Resort. Parking the RV was a bit tricky and we were very lucky to make the bus up to Silverton. Our tour guide was knowledgeable and the bus ride flew by. We ate lunch at Handlebars Restaurant & Saloon; their burgers were pretty good. If our memory serves, they brewed their own beer and it was meh.
The ride back became more of an adventure than we expected. One of the engines broke down bringing a train up to Silverton and the 12:30 train was delayed so the engine could take the 2:30 train back to Durango as well. Needless to say, the double length train did not move very quickly (train ride back took 5 hours). We were not prepared for the extended trip and had not packed enough diapers or food for Alex. Additionally, the train still made all the stops at various trail heads to drop off and pick people up. A really neat option, but it was frustrating after a long day. We didn’t get back to Durango until after the kennel closed, but they had an after hours pick up option and we were able to retrieve Penny, Chewie, and Buster.
It was a beautiful trip.
Garden of the Gods; Colorado Springs, CO
Our timing for this visit was poor. We arrived soon after Alex fell asleep. He was not in the mood to go on a long walk through the Garden of the Gods. It was also a hot, sunny day, so we took the dogs with us (allowed); they did not make the circus easier to manage.
We took a short hike and then returned to Abby for lunch and to push on North.
Carousel of Happiness; Nederland, CO
The Carousel of Happiness was built by a Marine Vietnam veteran, Scott Harrison. The frame was from the Saltair Park carousel that had its animals removed. Over the course of 26 years, Mr. Harrison hand carved 50 animals for the carousel, of which, 35 can be ridden.
Alex seemed a bit uncertain about his first ride on the carousel. The carousel is beautiful and is worth the visit.
We couldn’t move without trying breweries along the way. Unfortunately, we had to abort a couple of breweries as well. Alibi Ale Works in Incline Village, Nevada doesn’t like Alex’s type coming through their doors, which we respect. We had heard good things about Alibi, so we were disappointed that the logistics didn’t work out.
Due to the trials and tribulations of our journey, we only visited two breweries.
How did we end up in Berkeley on our move to Colorado from Davis, CA? Our geography and map reading skills are not that atrocious, really and truly. Dave’s cousin and her family, who live in New Zealand, were in the area on a college visit. It has been several years since we last saw them, so we took the opportunity to visit (Wonder why it took us 2 days to drive a net of eight miles? A side trip that was a lot of fun). They told us to chose a place for lunch, and of course we selected a brewery.
We tried the IPAX Ale and the Black Rock Porter and were pleased with both. The actual appearance, aroma, and taste were in-line with the menu descriptions of the beers. The Reuben and pulled pork sandwiches were also executed well.
We arrived in Park City, UT around lunch time. Fortunately for us, Wasatch Brewery was nearby. After parking Abby and the trailer in a free public lot (we used up 6 spaces, thankfully it wasn’t busy), we drove the car down to the main street of Park City and parked near Wasatch. We were able to get a shaded seat on the patio and got to relax while Alex enjoyed train videos.
We tried the Polygamy Porter which had a clever tag line of ‘take some home to the wives’. The color was excellent and the aroma was robust with chocolate and roasted notes. The flavor was disappointing. Grainy at best, it was surprisingly thin, especially after the aromas were the perfect set up for a thick bodied porter. The Evolution Amber Ale was the second beer we tried. It was an improvement over the Polygamy Porter, but we have brewed better at home. Overall, beer was meh. Food was very well done and the pickled tomatoes on the steak salad were a surprise highlight.