Monday, July 23, 2012

2012 Competition Results are in

So the results are in and it looks Shegogue Brew beers have been well received.  Over the past few months I  entered a variety of beers into three BJCP recognized homebrew competitions: F.O.A.M (Frederick Original Ale Makers) Battle of the Bubbles 2, B.U.R.P (Brewer's United for Real Potables) Spirit of Free Beer, and the Delaware State Fair's Battle of the Brews.  I have compiled the chart below so you can see which beers were entered and and how they did.

I am very pleased with the results of all three of the competitions.  Its funny when results come in, often times the beer I think had the best chance of doing something didn't place at all!  For the state fair I thought the stout had the best chance but it was the Mild and the Witbier drawing the attention of the judges.  I will try and post again once I get the scoresheets back.  This is where the real learning experience from competitions comes in, the unbiased feeback!  But until then I am all smiles...

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Open a Can!

When I hear the phrase "Open a Can" my mind immediately jumps to the Louisiana bayou where fictional football legend Bobby Boucher drank high-quality H2O and opened can's of "whoop-ass."  Others may associate opening a can with a Light american lager (Bud, Miller, Coors etc) or even a good old soda pop. My brother-in-law likes to associated the sound of an opening can as the "Sound of the Weekend," and I would have to agree.

Aluminum cans have been around for a long time as a packaging option to hold carbonated beverages.  In recent years, craft brewers have been turning the can, and after some quick myth debunking, it has been a great success.  If you take a look at you can see that 201 breweries combine to distribute 599 different craft beers in cans.  The can is a superior packaging product as it is lighter than glass and easily recyclable.  Another advantage of the canned beer is the can is impervious to light, which can prevent skunking.

Sierra Nevada has just recently opened a canning line for their beers and will probably really help change peoples mind on having craft beer in a can.  Other breweries which have been canning their product for a while are Oskar Blues (Known for Dales Pale Ale, Old Chub, and Momma's Little Yellow Pils) and the 21st Amendment (Known for their Watermellon Wheat, Brew Free or Die IPA, and Bitter American).  Locally based Flying Dog, Frederick, MD, and DC Brau in the District are also canning some beer. I could go on an on, but I suggest you just check out the list.

So get out there, and support your local breweries that distribute in cans.  Crack one open and savor the goodness within.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Double Brew for Shegogue

Well,  I finally got my butt out of bed to embark on what was my most ambiguous day in the Brewery to date.  I made two beers, Parti-gyle style.  Parti-gyle brewing was a standard brewing procedure many years ago, and still is utilized at breweries today such as Fuller's in the UK.  The concept is to take the first runnings of a mash to obtain the highest gravity wort.  This wort will be used to brew a big beer, generally over 8% ABV.  Additional runnings are fed to other kettles.  The gravity of the wort in these kettles will be significantly less and be used to make common session beers style beers

I used the first runnings for my Russian Imperial Stout which I am predicting to be around 10% abv.  I was going to cap off the mash (add grain) so the second runnings would make a beer about 1.050, but I had an issue and we will get to that later.

Brewday started around 8am.  This was the first time I have ever tried to utilize my 52 qt Coleman Xtreme mash tun to capacity.  I usually only make 5 gallon batches, but to obtain enough wort from the first runnings the mash tun needed to be filled more as if it was a 10 gallon batch.  I weighed out my 24 lbs of malt using my sweet new Ultraship scale! And then started to hand mill... thats right hand mill :(  I unfortunately had lent my drill to a family member early this week and completely forgot about.  That was a pain in the...arm!  (Note to self, need to start hitting the gym)

I almost had a disastrous moment as I emptied my entire strike volume into my mash tun.  I was almost about to start doughing in the the grain when my brew angel started screaming "Shegogue... NOOOOO!" Quickly I realized why I could not proceed.  I had forgotten to place my manifold in the mash tun!  This could have been a horrific problem had it not been caught.  I was able to runoff all the water back into my kettle, install the manifold and only lose about 15 minutes.

I collected my first runnings of 7 gallons of about 1.077 gravity and started my boil.  I added 3 ounces of 15.8% AA Warrior hops to the kettle at 60 minutes and when about milling my additional 3lbs of grain for the second beer.  I was using a great calculator from Brukaiser's website to approximate the gravity of my remaining runnings.

Unfortunately, as I was chilling down the wort from the Imperial Stout, my mash tun decided to fall over!  Presenting hot stick wort ALL over the garage floor and my feet, ouch!  I think I see a designated brewstand build in my future as that trash can clearly isn't cutting it.  After salvaging what I could, and then cleaning up the mess, I was able to draw off about 3.5 gallons of 1.031 wort for a 2.5 gallon batch.

Anyways, it was about an 9 hour messy brew day.  but I will get two different beers out of it, so well worth it.  The two beers are happily fermenting in around 66 degrees with Safale S-05.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Tears for beers

Well, I alluded to it last post and it has been hard for me to come around to write about it...the grief is just too painful.  I don't know if I can go on...


So we had a beer spillage in the brewery.  On Tuesday June 26, 2012, I set out to bottle about 18 beers from my Keg of American Pale Ale.  Some were going to Competition and the rest was headed off to friends and relatives.  I cleaned and sanitized my bottles, and made sure to use new bottles for the competition beers (gotta do everything you can to ensure the best quality beer for a comp).  I used my cheap-man's bottle filler (Bottling wand with a stopper shoved into the picnic tap) to fill and cap all 18 beers.

I was about to make a big mistake, but I didn't know it.  During the bottle filling, the fridge door was open a good 10 minutes or so.  During this time the temp in the fridge dropped quite a bit - all the kegs had condensation on them.  I placed the tap line back in the fridge, reset my CO2 pressure and shut the fridge.  I then went off to visit my friend for the day.  Time rolls around and I am hanging out tanning at the pool when I get a call from my wife.  Within in 5 seconds I understand I am in trouble, within 7 seconds I know I have lost something dear to me...the pale ale.  I think her screams resembled something like this:

"Brett, What did you do?  There is beer dripping out from under the garage door....and its everywhere in the garage!!!"

I had to diffuse the anger, but more importantly I had to explain to my wife how to find the cause and stop the leak.  I was able to explain to her how to shut off the CO2 and disconnect the lines. At this point all that was needed was to clean up the mess and find out how much beer was lost.  Luckily, my wife took care of the mess - what a wonderful wife she is!  I think by the pictures I only lost 6-12 beers thanks to my wife who had come home and caught it in time.

So how did this happen you may ask?  Well the answer is due to temperature change.  The vinyl beer line tubing we use as homebrewers is very flexible the warmer it is and becomes more rigid the cooler it is.  The line had warmed up, and gotten flexible, during my bottling.  Then when I placed it back in the fridge, it cooled down and became stiff.  The stiffness lead the line to "fall" and the picnic tap get "flipped" to the on position.  The rest I will leave to the pictures....

 The mess at the bottom of the fridge

 The trail out of the Garage


Since the incident I have attached velcrow to the inside of the fridge and to my tap lines.  I can now secure the lines above, and out of the way of danger.

Monday, July 2, 2012


I have been slacking on the blog posts, and if you anxiously await them, I apologize.  However, something tells me that my missing posts aren't ruining anyone's days!  I have been pretty busy these past few weeks.  I have been in a wiffleball league and that consumes a large portion of my Sunday afternoons.  I also just took 2 weeks off of work for vacation.  I had planned to brew during that time, but it just didn't happen.  Part of it is my fear of the extra long double brewday that will be my RIS and a subsequent small beer.  The other part - I am just plain old lazy.  If those weren't good enough reasons, well, its pretty darn hot and I don't like (or trust) my ferm chamber trying to beat a 30 degree differential in my garage!

Just cause I haven't been brewing, doesn't mean I haven't been thinking about it, or beer in general.  When visiting my in-laws in Delaware I went on a day-trip to Rehoboth Beach and had to get some "take-out" at Dogfish Head.  I got a growler of the Festina Peche - A quazi Berliner-weisse made with peaches.  I also got a bottle of 120 Minute IPA - An imperial IPA that is a true work of good brewmanship (its hard to get yeast to keep chuggin in such a toxic environment).

So the RIS is still pending brewing... I almost forgot, but there was an accident in the brewery... I will save that for next time!