We have never talked about Beer


Aww man, by the time I got your message Skipper, a lot of the beers were starting to run out. That one in particular was gone, as was the chocolate orange porter ‘Doomguy’ which I was really keen to try after it was awarded one of the beers of the festival.

I did get a chance to have the North Riding tiramisu porter which was nice, although I think the Horbury Ales one I’d had earlier in the year tasted more like tiramisu. There was a hazelnut stout by Little Critters that my girlfriend had which was delicious and very nutty. Thornbridge’s Cocoa Wonderland was really good too but I was tiring of the sweet stouts/porters by that point!

Beavertown’s Gamma Ray was a really good American pale ale and Magic Rock’s session pale Hat Trick was pleasant. By the end I was feeling heavy with sleep and couldn’t face much more booze! I’m so glad they allowed for thirds, halves and pints.

Thanks for the tips everyone, even if I wasn’t able to sample them all.


Please do, I’m super intrigued now!


No worries, man. Beer festivals are like that. Some times you strike gold and you’re like the only person floating around some great beers for a while. Other times you’re 20 back in line just to taste a sample of something you’ve already bought in a can/bottle. They can be hit or miss.

The best I ever did was the Burly Beer Fest the first year they had it here at Sierra Nevada when it opened in Asheville. The beers are all big hitters, high ABV, high taste, or both. That first year there was a bad cold spell the week of the event. So a few of us that had tickets found a place to crash and took the busses over to the event, only to find out it was very sparsely populated.

I drank so much great beer. Then I got hammered and ate food and, “napped.” Then I drank more great beer. It was fantastic. Plus I was able to meet several owners and head brewers for a few places, including Ken Grossman for Sierra Nevada.


Hah, result! As much as I love beer, these days I can only stomach so much before I just need to… stop. It’s a volume thing as well as my taste buds feeling shot after so much! That’s why I really appreciate thirds so I can try more without wiping out earlier.


I hear that. In fact, it is why I actually prefer drinking beer sometimes. It fills me up. I’m not a huge soda drinker. Carbonation makes me feel full, and that -usually- equates to me stopping early on while drinking beer. I consider that a good thing.

The sample size at events are also a great thing. A tip a friend of mine taught me is to just pour out anything you don’t find good or better. Life is short, beer is plentiful, and there is no shame at a beer tasting to pour out a sample of something that doesn’t match your taste. He’s right, even though part of me feels guilt for doing so, at times.


That’s not something I’d considered but I think your friend’s right! No good filling yourself on something you don’t like. I’ve got to say though, and I don’t know what it’s like over there, but we can ask to sample an ale before filling the glass, which is really great and something I neglect to do, unlike my girlfriend who’ll keep sampling until she strikes gold.


They do that here too and I’m so glad they do. It’s saved me from a few bad ones and steered me toward a few great ones. I sometimes feel bad even asking for samples though. After 1 or 2 you start to feel the glare of the bartender.


Is this where we talk about homebrewing? I hope so, because here I go. A friend of mine and I are getting into the hobby, starting with a dark ale with a hint of Christmas spice. (We don’t believe in starting easy, although we did at least use malt extract instead of going all-grain.)

Specialty malts in the brew kettle. A little bit of black patent malt for color, and a larger quantity of crystal malt for some sweetness.

On the boil. Pre-boil gravity of about 1.077; it’s a pretty hefty wort.

Our cooling solution. Pour water over icepacks on one side of the kettle, siphon water from tub on the other side of the kettle. It took about an hour and a half to get down to 75 degrees. We’ll probably build an immersion chiller for next time.

Siphoning into the carboy and fermentation-in-progress. (We’ll replace the blowout tube with a standard S-bend airlock in a few days. We had the standard airlock on at first, but it let yeast foam out last night, so we switched.) Gravity after boil was about 1.090, and we’re expecting about 9% ABV at the end.


The random software projects thread

Fascinating and great pics! Keep us posted on the results.


Huh, I missed this in the list or I would have recommended the Gamma Ray. It’s one of my favourite London beers. Smog Rocket, 8-Ball and Neck Oil are all good too.


Hey man, I homebrew! Glad to see another poster here who does. Keep in mind something important once you get an immersion chiller, you need to clean it, but sanitizing it isn’t really something that is needed. We put ours in the boil for the last 15 minutes to assist with that. Be wary of sputtering from both tube sides on the chiller, since you’re putting it in boiling water and anything inside the tubes turns to steam and comes out and high temp. But it helps a TON with chilling your wort.

Here’s what my small setup looked like not long after I started. It has changed a lot since then. Also a pic of Buddy, my brew dog helping me.


It was you who recommended their Bloody 'Ell to me, which was also lovely. Had to try Gamma Ray on that basis alone!


Thanks for the tips—I knew the sanitization one, but I definitely would not have guessed the steam thing until I got a blast of it in the face. :P

I’m rapidly discovering that this is one of those hobbies where there’s always more gear to get.


I’ve also melted the tubes because I let them get to close to the side of my brew kettle. :( I feel like homebrewing is an exercise in, “how many times can I fail and need to learn from the mistakes.”

TRUTH. It can be expensive. It’s fun though, and as hobbies go, you end up with beer.

For what it’s worth, there were certain things that I value way above others along the way, most of them around consistency.

  1. Kegging - My least favorite thing was bottling, it was also never consistent for me, I was a horrible bottler. Kegging and subsequent force carbing were an AMAZING step forward. (And cold crashing your carboy in the kegerator means a lot more clarity on finished beers.)
  2. Yeast starters - I didn’t think they would be a big deal at all but yeast consistency and pitching enough made a ton of difference in my finished beers.
  3. Temp control - I’m still not there yet. But I took things out of closets/bathroom tub and instead put things in a room with a portable A/C and heater. It keeps me in the 5 degree F range instead of in the 10 degrees F range (kinda) that I was relying on.
  4. All grain brewing - Okay, a lot of people would say this is the top thing, I don’t really think so. Extract kits have come a long way and specialty grains fill in a LOT of the difference. Stick with extracts until you absolutely are ready to step up. It lengthens and complicates the brew day in a big way. It adds stress to hit numbers for mash temps. It adds frustration with stuck mashes and runoffs. The payout is a cheaper brew, and much more control over the end taste. But the big if is that you have to be consistent, and being honest, I’m still a mess sometimes with it and I’ve been doing all grain since batch #2 in 2010, which is when that pic is from.


I think our next batch will probably be a simple Irish red, but we’re going to try brew-in-a-bag to get back to our target “Do we really know what we’re doing?” state. Our first batch called for dry yeast, which saves us having to get a starter going, but obviously that’ll change when we move onto liquid stuff.

Happily, we have a spare basement fridge we can use. We may get one of those wall-plug thermostats so we can do lagers more readily.


Hey, dry yeast has come a hell of a long way. There are a lot more varieties now too. When in doubt, I double pitch.

I would love to hear how brew-in-a-bag works. Sounds like a fun way to do something on a small and easy to clean up method.


I’ll be sure to document the brew day when we get there. We only have the one carboy at present, so we’re at least a week or three out, depending on how long this batch takes.


One thing I love about the fall is that it’s the time the seasonal stuff I like starts to crawl out of the vats. Porters and stouts of various sorts, like Oskar Blues’ Death by Coconut, for instance, and Ten Fidy. Some barrel-aged Yeti soon I hope. Stone’s Mexican chocolate-influenced stout. Stuff like that. Tasty.


When you say

do you mean “Stone Xocoveza Mocha Stout” - because I was browsing Total Wine’s selection online and saw that at my local store.

it sounds great:


That’s the one. Had one last night. It’s quite good, especially if you like stuff like the Evil Twin-Westbrook collaboration (Imperial Mexican Biscotti Cake Break). The latter is fab but is only available in big bottles and is usually like $15-16. The Stone is more reasonably priced, but not as full or deep, but still very good.