Posts Tagged ‘Home Brewing’


Time for a big home brewing event.

Homebrewing is bigger than ever in New Mexico. Chances are you, or someone you know brews beer at home. But homebrewing is growing faster than we could have ever imagined just a few years ago and will only get bigger. As most of you know, we were recently ranked the 30th best state for beer. Ouch! And uh … challenge accepted! But you see, I may understand why. Two years ago I didn’t know that there were homebrew clubs with large memberships all over the state. Nor was I aware that there are homebrew supply shops in every major city, and have been here longer than our beer scene. And I had no idea that there were so many annual homebrew competitions like Critical Mash this weekend, or the State Fair Pro-Am competition, or the Enchanted Brewing Challenge back in May. I learned about all of this from a friend, just like you are now. And just like you, I was given a nudge to start homebrewing by a friend. So here’s your nudge.

So why should YOU start homebrewing? Aside from the obvious, producing beer, you would be joining the friendliest community in the world, in my humble opinion. Homebrewing is an incredibly rewarding hobby, social activity, public service, obsession, art-form, and one that you can get involved in with very little commitment. Well, you could commit a few hours a month or dedicate your entire life to the art of making beer; that’s pretty much up to you. My point is that you get way more out of brewing beer than you can ever put in.

That said, RIGHT NOW is a great time to start homebrewing, and if you already do homebrew, now is the best time to get further involved and start challenging yourself! One of the largest homebrewing competitions is coming to New Mexico in November, and even sooner, an AHA (American Homebrewers Association) rally is coming to Santa Fe Brewing Co. on Saturday. If you homebrew, you definitely shouldn’t miss either.

Santa Fe Open Brewing Competition

According to Sangre De Cristo Craft Brewers Club President John Rowley, the inaugural Santa Fe Open Brewing Competition is a challenge open to both professional and amateur (homebrewers). Anyone over 21 is free to compete and both pros and amateurs can register to enter, judge, or steward at Santa Fe Open. They need all the help they can get, folks, so come out, even just to steward a flight. And don’t worry, they’ll explain what that means once you are there. All medalists will win both medals and prizes. With over 50 amazing sponsors, local and national, there is a huge assortment of great prizes ranging from brew swag like hats, T-shirts, and pint glasses, all the way to some serious stuff like a seven-gallon stainless steel conical fermenter, courtesy of the competition’s title sponsor SS Brewing Technologies. Holy yeast feeder, Batman! No one will go home disappointed if they medal.

“This is a first for New Mexico as none of the other competitions award prizes,” Rowley said. “We are the first in the state to do this. It’s common in other states to win prizes with medals, but oddly nobody was doing this here, so we figured it was time to change that. I suspect others will follow in time. The brewing community brews some amazing beer in New Mexico, so we wanted to give something back to those who brew strong. So please brew your best beer and enter it up and you won’t go wrong.”

So start brewing New Mexico! I’m putting something in the fermenters on Friday, and you can bet your sweet can I’m going to enter it!

Additional Information

The competition is AHA/BJCP sanctioned. Amateurs are allowed to enter any and all styles listed in the BJCP 2008 Style Guidelines. Professionals are allowed to enter any specialty beer (categories 23A and 16E per the 2008 BJCP style guidelines). They ask that the pros make it interesting, as entries will be docked that are deemed to be closer to non-specialties than specialties. The competition will take place over the weekend of Nov. 7-9. Professional judging will take place Friday, Nov. 7 at 6:30 p.m., and amateur judging will take place all day and into the evening on Saturday, Nov. 8. Both judging events will take place at the Whole Foods Community Room, located at 1090 S. St. Francis Dr. The awards ceremony/potluck will be on Sunday afternoon, Nov. 9, at Santa Fe Brewing Co. around 1 p.m. If you have any questions or want to take a look at the many generous sponsors, just visit their Facebook page.

AHA Rally in Santa Fe

Saying that Santa Fe Brewing Co. is having a party on a Saturday is like saying something is brewing at SFBC. “Well, Duh!” (to quote my 90’s 10-year-old self). But this Saturday, something new is going down. The American Homebrewers Association, the national homebrewers club that brings us Zymurgy magazine, is coming to SFBC and they want you to join them. Come out for an afternoon of all things homebrewing. This is going to be a blast! On Saturday, you can join or renew your AHA membership at a discount. SFBC will be pouring complimentary beer samples. There will be gifts and prizes and you can rub elbows or share recipes with other avid homebrewers. I’ll be there, and my elbows will be washed in advance.

Now, to sweeten the deal, our friends at Mother Road Mobile Canning will be there to can your homebrew! What!? Yeah, you heard correctly. They want to put your brew in a can. Got something carbonated in a keg that’s just itchin’ to slip into something more … sexy? Bring your carbonated keg on down to the brewery and get your brew canned on Mother Road’s canning line, or just marvel at the awesomeness as it happens. Contact Mother Road if you’re interested in canning.

With these great events happening soon, if you’re a homebrewer in New Mexico, it’s an exciting time to be alive!


— Luke

Over the last two weekends, judging has been going on for the State Fair Pro-Am Brewing competition. On Friday evening at Tractor Brewing Wells Park, the Best of Show was chosen. There we 180 professional entries and 269 amateur entries for ales, lagers, meads, and ciders.

state fair pro am

The State Fair Pro-Am judges were hard at work.

To avoid the longest caption in history with the photo, here are the IDs for those at the table, listed counter-clockwise: Patrick Johnson (light blue shirt) certified BJCP judge, Andrew (purple shirt) first-time judge, Jason Kirkman (green shirt) provisional BJCP judge, John Rowley (black shirt) accomplished home brewer, Kevin Fleming (grey shirt) accomplished home brewer, and Mike Hall (dark blue polo) national BJCP judge. Standing watching over table the are David Hargis (solid blue shirt) Tractor’s head brewer and Karl Gass (patterned blue shirt) experienced judge.

For the amateur bracket, the best ale was Ben Miller’s Robust Porter, “Robust Rubber Nipples.” John Smolley had the best lager with his “Yellow Jacket Schwarz” (Schwarzbier). Barney Brumley won the mead category with “Port of Fall.” Brent Newman had the best cider for “Baranca Mesa Cider.” The specialty category and Best of Show were won by John Rowley with “The Blueballer” (Belgian Specialty).

In the professional bracket, the best ale was from Bosque Brewing’s John Bullard for Scotia Scotch Ale. Mike Campbell from Cazuela’s Mexican Grill had the winning lager for his Inebriator Doppelbock. The B2B Brew Crew (Kyle Baxter, Gary Small, Callie Benjamin) from Bistronomy B2B had the winning specialty beer with their Coconut Porter. In the cider category and for Best of Show winner was Santa Sidra’s Tad Sweet.

The Dukes of Ale would like to thank Tractor for hosting and thank all the participants, stewards, and judges. It truly is a massive undertaking to collect, sort, and accurately judge hundreds of beers. Like so much in brewing, it is a labor of love — thank you!

Congratulations to all the winners! The complete list of winning beers will be posted on the Dukes of Ale website shortly.

— Paul

Every year new breweries come in from out of the state to start distributing their beers in New Mexico. Not many of them have a brewer who hails from Albuquerque. Paul Mallory took over as head brewer at Black Diamond Brewing Company last year and now he will be coming home with his beers in tow for two tasting events.

Paul will be in Albuquerque with Admiral Beverage Company at the Barley Room (Spain and Eubank) from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. today (Tuesday) and at Jubilation from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesday. I hope everyone can get to one of the events and meet Paul and sample some of his brews.

A display stand like this one for Black Diamond Brewing Co. will be at The Barley Room today and Jubilation on Wednesday.

A display like this one for Black Diamond Brewing Co. will be at The Barley Room today and Jubilation on Wednesday.

Black Diamond is located in the Bay Area, specifically in Concord. They specialize in West Coast-style, hop-forward beers, Belgian style ales, and barrel-aged beers. Over the years, they have won many awards including a Great American Beer Festival bronze medal in the Belgian Dark Strong Ale category for “The 12.” In March 2014, they celebrated their 20th anniversary by brewing a Double IPA using their favorite hops.

Prior to coming to Albuqueruqe, Paul and I did an interview over email. Here is what he to say about his beers and coming home.

Q: How long have you been brewing and how did you make the transition from home brewer to pro?

Paul: I started with a home brewing kit from my parents when I was 21. I had a degree in music from UNM but then went to CNM for some Biology and Chemistry then on to UC Davis Brewing School. Along the way I took the BJCP course. I was lucky to (have an) internship at Marble.

Q: Tell me more about Black Diamond and the Witch in White.

Paul: I got to shop around after finishing at UC Davis. I got hired on as an assistant at Black Diamond. It was a natural fit as I was already living there. It’s a good area for brewing as many people know. They’re making exciting beer. I loved the idea of staying there. The Black Diamond Brewery has been around for about 20 years, but it has only been in the last 5-7 years have they been making exciting beers — American Style, Barrel Aged, Belgian Styles, and those are the beers that excited me. The Brewery is named after the Black Diamond Mines out in the East Bay outside of Oakland. Those are the mines that supplied all the coal for the Gold Rush, the boom that was going on in the San Francisco area. In that area there is a cemetery that the White Witch is known to haunt. We were trying to come up with a name of a beer and one of sales guys said, “I’ve wanted to name a beer after this Witch for a long time.” After a month of searching, we named the beer in half an hour. We loved it and had our in house guy design a killer label for it. It is an American-style IPA. It is lighter drinking at 6.3 percent (ABV), but with a lot of hop character and aroma with Simcoe, Citra, and Chinook.

Q: What are your beers and your favorite styles?

Paul: Sort of along the lines of the White Witch, I’ve been trying to make beers that are a little more drinkable. We do really bold, really intense, beers, barrel-aged beers, but I have been trying to make beers that are more drinkable.  Some (that) the beer nerd like me will drink, but will also appeal to my mom or my friends that don’t drink beers. One of these is the Moeasic, a session IPA. We used the hot new style which was the session IPA and the hot new hop which was the Mosaic. We put the two together to showcase the hop and it is a 4.7-percent, dry-hopped IPA. It is very drinkable but has all the hop character the beer nerds like me are looking for. We also make some barrel-aged beers. We get these used bourbon barrels used for a killer imperial porter released in the winter. A lot we released in 22-ounce bottles and some in the barrels and did some of our blending at that time. They are quite different. It is nice to compare them side by side.

Q: What do you think about the Albuquerque beer scene vs. what is going in California?

Paul: I look forward to coming back to New Mexico and Albuquerque every time. I’m sure everyone out here will tell you about how often I rave about all the great breweries in New Mexico. I really feel that I’m in the Mecca of Brewing in the Bay Area, but gotta say that New Mexico is not (far) behind at all. The Bay Area is more saturated; there are brewers and breweries everywhere. It makes for some interesting business models and a lot of people are specializing; they are almost forced to specialize in something. You are getting these breweries that are doing all sours or all barrel-aged, or all Belgian, or cask beers. It makes for an interesting beer scene out here.

Q: There are at least another four or five breweries coming on line this year in Albuquerque and there is some concern about saturation here. Are you starting to see any shakeout in the Bay Area?

Paul: It is interesting. I live in the Berkeley/Oakland area and for a long time there was only one brewery in all the city limits of Oakland, which is about the same size as Albuquerque. In the last year, five have popped up. There is still room; you just have to find the spot. It feels like (saturation) is coming, but there is still room for growth.

Q: What excites you most about having Black Diamond distributed in New Mexico and how did that happen?

Paul: About a year ago we started to expand our distribution. We had our beers out East. Here and there, Maryland, Florida, Ohio, kind of scattered, so what we wanted to do was pull out of the markets that we could respectfully, and also focus more on the West Coast, places that are closer to us and cheaper for us to ship insuring that our beer is fresher and ready to drink. We have a good distributor in Arizona and we just went into Texas. For everybody it was obvious to go to New Mexico. I was telling everybody about the beer scene in New Mexico. I had a feeling that if we brewed good beer, the people in Albuquerque would drink it. For me it is just a personal joy for my friends and family to drink the beer. They have all heard me talk about it too much! They are probably tired of hearing about it and want to just drink it. It is also coming full circle. I made my first batch of beer in Albuquerque when I was 21, did internships there and just love the town. Whenever I’m not there, I miss it. To come back and do a promotion and share something I love so much, in Albuquerque, I can’t tell you how much it means to me.

Cheers to that, Paul! Welcome home!

Such a magical place...

Such a magical place…

Greetings faithful readers and beer connoisseurs, the NMDSBC is here to bring you another installment in the Brewology series!  With a few amateur home brewers in our collective, these articles are dedicated to the craft of making beer right out of our homes from scratch. We attempt to document the process as much as possible and always enjoy questions and feedback from everyone. As always, keep in mind that we are not professionals at this by any means, but we enjoy sharing our experiences with our readers!

If you happen to know any of us then you know that the gentleman of the NMDSBC are busy individuals. Between work, school, musical gigs, covering sporting events, and whatever the hell it is that Porter Pounder does (I kid, but seriously … what does he do?), it is pretty challenging to get all of us in the same room for any period of time, let alone a few of us. But we always do our best to get together in the name of beer, especially when it comes to getting our hands dirty and creating a home brew of our own!

Being the Dark Side Brew Crew, it seems only appropriate to whip up a batch of something deep, dark, bold, and well, metal (cue the Pantera). Various ideas and recipes for things such as stout variations and even a black IPA were thrown around; ultimately the porter idea won. Originally a chocolate coffee porter was in the mix, but due to a combination of my busy schedule and laziness when I wasn’t busy, the coffee was phased out of the recipe. In anticipating that this may be the case, you’ll see I did pick some of the traditional bold malts that one might expect in a porter, and basically upped the quantities of the malts that would impart more coffee characteristics. Although there will definitely be a coffee beer in the cards at some point soon, I think the bold malt bill makes up for the loss enough to still make this a good beer.

Blacker than the blackest black: transferring to secondary fermentation

Blacker than the blackest black: transferring to secondary fermentation

About four weeks ago Porter Pounder and I, along with our good friend Daniel Hicks in tow to see what this whole homebrewing thing is all about, spent an afternoon putting it all together and making beer happen! The recipe was solidified prior, minus a few tweaks that occurred in the grain room of Southwest Grape & Grain, and consisted of Vienna malt for the base, 120L caramel, crisp chocolate, CaraAroma, 80L crystal, black malt, roasted barley and flaked barley. Now if you are familiar with porters, you can see that I went against the grain (pun intended, heh) in using Vienna for a base malt. The thought here was the Vienna malt, being sweeter than a tradition porter base such as a pale malt, would add a good amount of sweetness to the beer. Having measurements of the other bolder grains that were more substantial than I’d used in my previous attempt at a porter, it was important to me to try to balance everything out as much as possible. The crisp chocolate malt was picked due to the rich coffee hints, which was meant to augment any additional coffee flavors put into the brew. We should also be looking at a slightly roasted, but rich and possibly creamy body. Quite simply, we wanted enough sugars to be converted by the yeast during fermentation, but still wanted residuals to give that flavor in the end. In terms of hops we kept it fairly straightforward, using small amounts of Cascade and Fuggles. This was an interesting combination, but after taking into account things like aromatics, alpha/beta acids, and malt bill, I settled on the Cascade for aroma and Fuggles for bittering and finish.

Now comes a confession that I’m not terribly happy with: I used an adjunct. Unsweetened cocoa powder to be specific. Why did I do this and why is it a bad thing, you ask? To answer the first question, I wanted to get an extra hit of chocolate into the mix. Chocolate beers that I’ve enjoyed always have an added element of richness and the same was to be had in this beer, dammit! Now as for the second question: well, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing … depending on who you ask. Some might argue that using adjuncts spoils an all-grain homebrew, some feel the flavors that are derived from these are not very brewer-friendly, or that they just impart very processed flavors in the final product. So it really isn’t a matter of right or wrong, only a matter of preference. I utilized whole vanilla beans in a porter previously and that worked quite well; in retrospect, I should have used the same process on cocoa nibs to get that something extra which I was looking for.

Brandon finally got a new bottling hat!

Brandon finally got a new bottling hat!

Oh, well, sue me.

The brew itself went surprisingly well, especially considering a few extenuating circumstances such as not having everything I needed for my turkey fryer burner and having to boil on an electric burner. Remember when I said “sue me”? Anyway, fermentation started after almost a 24-hour lag, but the English Brown Ale yeast took effect and did its job nicely. Primary only took about six days before transferring to secondary fermentation to let it age for a bit longer. Secondary fermentation lasted about three weeks before racking and bottling this past Sunday evening. A preliminary reading on the ol’ hydrometer has it clocking in at about 1.060 and a little over 6-percent ABV. There is plenty of chocolate aroma present, with roasted barley and subtle coffee notes as well. Of course all of this means nothing if the taste is not there, but all things considered this should be a pretty solid porter … only time will tell. How much time? Since the beer is bottle conditioned using priming sugars we are looking at another three weeks. A few bottles have already been set aside for aging just for fun.

Oh, and as for the name of the beer? Well as an homage to one of my favorite albums by one of my favorite bands … I have dubbed thee: Porter in The Yard! After the album “Prowler in The Yard” by Pig Destroyer. What can I say? My love for all things beer and metal runs deep.

All in all, another round of fun with friends concocting batches of delicious homebrew. As soon as the porter is ready to enjoy you can expect a review article, and keep an eye out for another installment of Brewology very soon when we get together for a batch that Porter Pounder will be doing. Spoiler alert: it’s a black IPA. Until next time …


— Brandon Daniel

Editor’s note: Stoutmeister here again with another entry from Derek. Yes, we’re working on getting him his own sign-in for the site, but we wanted to get this post up before fall morphs into bitter winter. Derek is the most experienced home brewer among the six of us, so you’re darned right we wanted to get him writing about the process and the experience. If anyone out there takes this recipe and makes their own pumpkin ale, let us know how it turns out. Who knows, the Crew could even stop by and sample your creation.

Original recipe I modified from:

A pumpkin ale starts best with real pumpkin instead of stuff from a can.

Original Recipe Ingredients:
* 6-10 pounds of pumpkin
* 5 gallons bottled water
* 1 pound of Vienna malt, 4L
* ½ pound crystal malt, 60L
* ½ pound malted wheat
* 6 pounds light or amber malt extract
* 1 cup brown sugar (optional)
* ½ cup molasses (optional)
* 1 ounce Mt. Hood hops (boiling)
* ½ ounce Hallertauer hops (finishing)
* ½ teaspoon vanilla
* ½ to 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spices (see below)
* Wyeast 1056, American Ale

Partial Mash: My main goal of this brew is to actually taste the real pumpkin. Most pumpkin ales you’ll try barely register any pumpkin flavor over the ridiculous amount of pumpkin pie seasoning instead.  My modifications included more real pumpkin (canned tastes fake and is a horrible mess to clean) and I used a more specific style of malted wheat and a different Vienna malt.  They were slight changes, but all due to tasting each of the malts at the beer store and deciding what flavors I wanted for my beer specifically.  Instead of typical priming straight corn sugar, I primed with more brown sugar.

All other options I used in my recipe, including molasses and extra brown sugar during the boil.  These create a rich, thick, dark beer, which was my goal.  For the pumpkin pie spice mix, I took all the elements separately and mixed my own until I was happy with the taste and scent. I then added it in, rather than use a muted premade pumpkin pie spice mix from the store.  I mixed allspice, cinnamon, a tiny bit of ginger, and nutmeg. The vanilla I used was an extract liquid separately to taste.

Roast your pumpkin to bring out the flavor.

Start by cleaning all your brew gear, including the pots and your carboy or primary bucket and rinse thoroughly. Bacteria will be your biggest nemesis in creating a quality beer.  I cut up and gutted the pumpkin into manageable-sized pieces.  I scraped the seeds and guts out but left the rind on.  Putting the pieces in a shallow dish with water, enough to bring to the rim of the shallow dish, I roasted the pumpkin for about an hour. The pumpkin should be obviously cooked through — you can tell by the color and nice and soft texture. Feel free to eat a piece and enjoy; then you’ll know how prominent your pumpkin flavor should be coming through in the beer by knowing the strength of the flavor of the pumpkin itself. If you are using a liquid yeast, now may be a good time to pop the packet (directions are on the bag) so it can expand by the time you’re ready for it.  Now that my ingredients are ready, it’s time to start my boil.

Add the pumpkin in muslin sacks to the mixture.

I bring up my water (2.5 gallons distilled and spring water mix) to a rolling boil, in this case right up to 170 degrees Farenheit.  Then I added both the fresh roasted pumpkin, split into about three muslin grain sacks, and all of my crushed grains also split into two or three muslin sacks, to my heated water.  Make sure to watch the temperature and give an occasional stir to keep the water immersing through all the bags to extract all the flavor it can.  You need to regulate or even cut off your heat to keep it between 160-170 degrees. This process should be about an hour.  The year before when I followed the original recipe more specifically I let the pumpkin by itself immerse for an hour and then did the grains separately.  This all depends on the amount of flavor you want to pull, and this will also affect the color of the beer in terms of darkness.  Either method is acceptable and also depends on the size of your brew pot if you can fit all of the muslin sacks in one sitting.  Remove your muslin sacks one at a time using your brew spoon to help extract a bit of the water from each sack before disposing of them.

The beer begins to take form.

Bring the mix back to a soft, rolling boil and slowly pour your dry extract while stirring constantly.  It really helps to have a friend to pour while you stir or vice versa to prevent it from piling onto and settling or sticking to the bottom and burning.  Add your brown sugar and molasses and keep stirring.  Add your boil hops that you’ve chosen and boil for one hour.  Fifteen minutes before the boil is done add your finishing hops.  As you cut your boil at the end of the hour, add your vanilla (I like a touch more than the recipe calls for) and the pumpkin pie blend you’ve made — it all depends on how much you’ve created and also to taste depending on how much you want to taste.  My goal is for a start of pumpkin pie seasoning off the top where you settle on real pumpkin flavors on the back of your palate.

Cool your beer in a sink filled with ice and water plugged up.  Keep it in the brew pot and don’t put ice or water directly into your batch, just surround it and add more ice and keep checking the temperature until you’re about 70 degrees.

When your water is cooled enough, use a disinfected funnel and pour the rest of your water (you should have five gallons total, bottled and ready to go). Slowly pour your beer from your brew pot into your carboy.  If the pot is too heavy to pour slowly, disinfect a small pot and dip it into your brew pot and pour that way until its manageable to pour from your pot itself.  You want to avoid causing as many bubbles as you can while pouring. Aerating your beer at this stage will promote bacteria growth and stunt the ability for your yeast to live properly.

Pitch your yeast. Follow the directions on the packet depending on the brand you buy and if it’s a liquid yeast or powder dry yeast.  If it’s a liquid you may need to pop your yeast to start warming to room temp up to three hours in advance before pitching. Pour your yeast into your batch in the carboy, using the funnel to help. Let your beer receive as much of this packet as you can; each bag contains billions of live yeast, but it only takes one single one to start fermentation, so the more that reach it and have a chance to live the better.

Roll your carboy slightly while it’s still upright, just rocking it on the base of it. Don’t create more bubbles. Typically you’ll see the yeast swirling — that means you have a live beer! If it doesn’t swirl right away continue on to the next steps regardless; sometimes it takes a bit for it to live. You want your beer to stay around 70 degrees or so during your primary fermentation.

Use a little H2O to get the CO2 out of your carboy.

If you are using a bottling bucket instead of a carboy, this is fine. Put a triple-step disinfected cap onto the grommet with either a bit of vodka or a quarter of a cleansing tablet. My method is going straight into a carboy, then take one of the bottles of water you already used, cut it in half and fill with water with some room to spare.  Take your blowoff tube you bought from your beer store and stick in the top of your carboy, with the other end down into the bottle of water you cut up.  This will take the Co2, siphoning it out of your carboy during fermentation and extracting it out and then into the air though the bottle of water sitting next to it.

Fermentation begins for the pumpkin ale.

Ferment for one week. By the next day your bottle should be fermenting, you’ll see it growing on top and bubbling like mad, either from the airlock or into that bottle of water next to it. Once you’ve reached no bubbling in about 24 hours, usually around a week, then you’re into secondary fermentation. Remove the airlock from your bottling bucket and the lid slowly (still avoiding bubbles) and get your beer into your carboy. The best method is to use a siphon tube and hose.  You need to be careful not to get any of the turbo (dead yeast and grains and other such that have settled into a cake at the bottom of the primary fermentation). If you are using a carboy for primary, use the same siphon and hose and still be careful to avoid the turbo.  If some gets into your secondary don’t sweat it; it won’t affect the beer’s taste or quality, but the point of secondary is to take it out of that element of the turbo. You always have a third option, too.  This only matters if you used a carboy for primary fermentation, and that is to remove your blowoff tube, and leave the beer as it is in the same carboy, and still move to the next step.

Take your cleaned rubber stopper that fits your five-gallon carboy, and your s-lock airlock and put them together, with water and a quarter cleanser tabled crushed to a powder filling up to the medium line on the airlock, or in lieu use vodka again. These prevent bad air and elements of bacteria from going back into your beer as it grows and ferments and lives.  Keep your beer in your secondary for one week. A calendar or brew schedule helps to keep your dates straight and know when it’s time to do what.

The bottling process means your beer is nearly ready.

Welcome to bottling day! You’re almost to your final stage, which is drinking your new concoction.  Slowly siphon or pour your beer from your secondary into your bottling bucket, still avoiding getting any trub in there if you didn’t swap to a secondary fermenter. Keep the top of your bucket covered with paper towels as much as you can to avoid anything from getting inside. Once your beer is into your bottling bucket you need to prep your priming sugar. Mix your sugar into already boiling water and keep stirring with a disinfected whisk for five minutes. Let the solution cool a bit, then pour into your bottling bucket, stirring all the while to mix it into the entire batch. Use your bucket and the beer store should have sold you a bottler, caps, and a capper, to fill each of your disinfected and rinsed bottles. Push your bottler (sneak) into each of your bottles, pressing down on the bottom. The beer should go through your bucket tap down into your bottle. When it reaches the brim of the bottle, remove the sneak and you’ll have a perfectly proportioned bottle of beer.

If you have an assistant or friend around I recommend you take turns bottling and capping at the same time so no beer is just sitting around unbolted.  After your caps are on, store in a cool, dark area for two weeks. This is about your bare minimum for any beer before tasting to have a proper time to prime. I recommend for this batch to sit from at least one month to up to three months and then you’ll have the best flavors.

Wait your allotted time and then enjoy!  You should have ended up with a flavorful amber or darker beer, with a small head from a top pour with a light carbonation.

Stoutmeister holds up his first pint of Derek’s pumpkin ale.

As for my pumpkin ale, some of the other members of the Crew were around to sample it when it was ready. Only Stoutmeister seems to remember it, however, so here are his thoughts:

Stoutmeister: Darker, burlier than I expected, this was a welcome treat. Unlike a lot of the pumpkins (looking at you, Chama River), the spices were relatively subtle and confined. You could pick up actual pumpkin flavor on the back end. A good, smooth beer, the kind you can drink and enjoy for a long time while hanging out with friends.

All right, well that is all on my latest home-brewing experience. If you have any questions or suggestions for my next brew, leave them here or on our Facebook page.


— Derek

Stoutmeister here, trying to clear out the mental notebook of beer (sure, I could write stuff down, but instead I prefer using my hands to lift pints) before trekking down to Marble’s Septemberfest on Saturday.

Septemberfest is back on Saturday. Don’t forget your sunscreen. And your appetite for great New Mexico beer.

Speaking of Septemberfest, this year’s edition kicks off at noon, features the added bonus of Red Light Cameras on stage, and of course has a strong New Mexico representation of breweries from around the state. The out-of-town list includes Abbey, Blue Corn, Blue Heron, Mimbres Valley, Santa Fe, Second Street, and Three Rivers. The metro area list includes Broken Bottle, Chama River, Il Vicino, La Cumbre, Nexus, Rio Grande/Sierra Blanca, Tractor, Turtle Mountain, and of course host Marble.

If the beer gods smile upon us, Blue Corn will bring some dark beers this year, Blue Heron will have its epic La Llorona Scottish Ale, Mimbres Valley will bring its Scottish (Shilling was a big fan), Santa Fe will have Oktoberfest, Second Street will have just about anything and everything (I have yet to have a bad, or even mediocre, beer there), and Three Rivers will unleash some styles that E-Rock and I did not have when we made a quick stop at Farmington in the summer. Sure, I could call all these breweries and ask what they’re bringing, but dang it, it’s Friday and I am lazy. Sorry. Besides, I like the mystery of not knowing what I’m in for. Sort of.

Enough with that rambling (oh, yeah, and don’t forget your sunscreen, like ABQ Beer Geek always seems to, unless you want to turn into a NASCAR fan with that ruby-colored neck). Enjoy the Septemberfest and I will see most of you there.

Anyway, in other tidbits of news and notes:

  • Broken Bottle is unleashing the Irish Coffee Ale tonight, which is not a coffee stout but an ale made with coffee. It certainly sounds interesting and could be worth a trip to the west side (or they could save me some gas $$$ as prices rise and bring it to Septemberfest; HINT for Chris and Donovan).
  • Brew Crew member Derek started brewing his annual batch of pumpkin ale on Thursday. Derek is our most experienced home brewer and I will twist his arm until he actually writes his first story for us. I realize he’s a film guy/graphic designer, so maybe we can just get him to record some stuff and put it up on YouTube. Not that I’m hinting at anything, Derek.
  • On the interesting idea front, the Crew might very well make our own stout for the Super Bowl Beer Battle in 2013. That assumes we again pit the metro area’s best stouts against each other, we could go a different direction, but we will have to make up our minds pretty quickly. Most home-brewed stouts need about two months to age.
  • The thick and burly Pecos Porter is a highlight at La Cumbre.

    Shilling, Cryptogrind, and I stopped by La Cumbre on Thursday to sample the two new seasonals, the VMO #3 and the Pecos Porter. Personally, I highly recommend the porter. It has an initial burst of strong flavors from the chocolate, caramel, black, and British Pale malts, but it mellows out pretty quickly and it is not as thick as some winter porters tend to be. The Centennial hops add an extra bite, but don’t worry, it’s not like a black IPA or anything of that sort. It fits perfectly for the start of fall (or what is supposed to be the start of fall). The VMO #3 is not an Oktoberfest in the classic sense, instead it is a German-style lager with a slightly darker complexion than most lagers. It tends to be a little dry, but it grows on you as you drink it and ends up being rather smooth and refreshing in the end.

  • I should not hog all the reviewing, so here is Cryptogrind’s take on the Pecos Porter: “Pecos was an ass-kicker, but one that high fives you after the ass kicking. A nice, subtle malty start with bold coffee flavors. Excellent for the cold weather that is approaching, with smooth drinkability.”

Our preview of that as-yet-unopened Bosque Brewing will be posted online very soon.

Oh, yeah, and the Crew will be unveiling its story on Bosque Brewing at some point in the near future (I have about 50 minutes of interview to transcribe off ye old digital recorder). If I can get it in today, I will, but fear not Fab Four of Bosque, it will get up there by Tuesday at the latest. They were gracious hosts to Shilling, E-Rock, and I on Thursday and we shall repay them.

So anyway, that is all from us for the time being. We are hoping Franz Solo survives the iPhone5 onslaught at the Apple Store today (he has already called for beers/dinner at Nexus tonight). Then we just have to hope that my paleness can avoid a sunburn at Septemberfest on Saturday. And that Blue Heron brings its Scottish. I needs it.

Until the Bosque preview or Septemberfest review …


— Stoutmeister

Some Crew members have been very busy the past few weeks while some have been MIA. I have been one of those MIA. Between work, tending to a sick girlfriend, and even a death in my extended family, I’ve been keeping to myself mostly while neglecting my duties as a writer for this blog. Well, I believe the sun has risen once again and it is time to crank out some overdue material.

This marks our first Easter edition of Beer Weekend, which probably won’t differ too much from our normal update. But, like any holiday, this is a day to spend with loved ones and friends, and instead of hunting for those strangely colored eggs, hunt for miniatures.

Shilling's homebrewed red ale will soon be ready for consumption.

Shilling: This post marks the completion of my first homebrewing experience. In two weeks time the final product will be ready and I’m sure another BBQ will follow with the Crew and various other hooligans. As promised, the Broken Bottle Brewery interview will be written and posted (after a battle of various interferences). For some of you downtown folks, a few of us will be present at the Chama River Taproom pre-gaming for Black Dahlia Murder’s show at Sunshine Theater on Saturday night. Come on out and have a pint with us!

Cryptogrind: To put it simply, my weekend shall consist of biking, friends, grilling and metal. Shilling and I will be downtown Saturday night for the Black Dahlia Murder/Nile show at the Sunshine Theater … which means a stop at the Chama River Taproom. Find us if you’re out and about, or come get your beer and metal fix with us!

E-Rock: As mentioned in many previous posts, I am a musician and my busiest weekend for shows is always the first weekend of the month. However, I can always find time for some good local brews. After my own show on Friday I will head to a show at Launchpad benefiting a friend of mine who has recently been diagnosed with cancer. In addition to supporting a good cause and enjoying great music, I will be researching an upcoming post detailing the availability of local craft beers in the downtown bar scene. I will also spend this weekend checking out Il Vicino’s anniversary celebration Saturday afternoon and bringing a six pack of Marble Oatmeal Stout to a giant Easter party in Barelas.

Stoutmeister: After I got back from Taos, before the snow even showed up, my throat got sore in that oh-so-special way that made me know I was coming down with my first cold of 2012. Oh, the joy of sniffling, coughing, aching, and worst of all, not being able to drink beer all week (UPDATE! I felt good enough this afternoon to finally open the growler of Blue Heron’s La Llorona Scottish Ale that sat sadly in my fridge, untouched all week). I hope to head over to the one-year anniversary party at Il Vicino Canteen on Saturday, which runs from noon to 5 p.m. and will feature both the Sasquatch Scotch and the Passtout on cask. Beyond that I plan to watch a lot of opening week baseball, some of the final hockey games of the regular season (as an aside, Cryptogrind and I are about to go to war as it’s now official, my Penguins vs. his Flyers in the first round) and yeah, some EPL games.

Franz Solo: He just got back from a well-earned vacation that included a stop at the Pagosa Springs Brewery! Look for a review soon.



Brewology—The taste of homebrew

Posted: April 2, 2012 by Brandon Daniel in Beer Science, News
Tags: ,

Greetings to all, it’s your old friend Cryptogrind here with another installment of Brewology!  The culmination of lots of hard work, careful monitoring, and a liberal amounts of grains and hops finally reached the palate this past weekend, and we were all eagerly anticipating this day.  So what better way to celebrate than a party with ribs, brats, and other assorted meats?  Oh yes, there were plenty of grilled veggie alternatives for our vegan friend Shilling.  Food, friends, good tunes, and homebrew … all the makings of an excellent day.

The ESB is finally unveiled. The NMDSBC rejoices.

If you’ve been following the Brewology articles, you will recall that the homebrew in questions was an ESB … or so we thought.  After some research into this type of recipe, it could more accurately be labeled as an ESB/English Brown hybrid.  The good folks over at Victor’s Grape Arbor put together some tasty looking recipe kits based on their own house recipes, which is where this particular brew came to light.  My personal tastes also led me to this beer; plus, knowing the friends I’d be sharing this particular brew with, I figured it would be a solid bet for a first homebrew attempt.  And it certainly yielded enjoyable results.

With Shilling, Stoutmeister, and E-Rock all in attendance, we proceeded to pop a few bottles and have our first taste.  Upon first appearance, you immediately noticed that this was a rich beer with a color that gravitated towards the dark amber side of the spectrum.  It had a thick head, with an appropriate level of carbonation for the style.  The aromas gravitated towards the nut varieties; everyone seemed to agree it possessed the comforting and tasty aroma of banana nut bread.  Upon first taste you will get a few of the characteristics of an ESB, but those are quickly taken over by a smooth malty coating on the entire palate that left a pleasant, lingering medley of grains.  The mouth feel was somewhat thick and rich, which subsides after a few seconds to a mellow malty sensation.  The Kent Golding hops are present in the beginning, as are the Hallerteau hops at the finish, albeit in an extremely subtle way.

Going for a swim...

Shilling's red takes an ice bath before going into the fermenter.

After several were passed around to the other members of our shindig, the general consensus was that this was a surprisingly easy drinking beer, considering the richness.  My first impression upon the first few sips was that it starts off a bit shy, but leaves with smile and laughter once that pint or bottle is empty.  At an estimated 5.5-percent ABV, this is a brew that won’t leave you having to call a friend or a taxi after only a pint or two.  After tasting this, I considered boiling some of our delicious brats in a bit of the ESB before throwing them on the grill, but ultimately decided I would simply enjoy it straight from the bottle.  Overall, everyone enjoyed the drinkability and the overall flavor of my first homebrew, and I couldn’t be happier to make that claim.

At the same time, Shilling has been bitten by the homebrewing bug himself, and has started the process of brewing his very own red ale.  As for myself, I also jumped right back into the fermenter (so to speak), and began a batch of a style I am a huge fan of — a delicious vanilla porter.  I wanted to stick to something that would match the spring season, but I could not resist the urge to brew a nice complex beer with a lot of grain variety (and those oh-so-soothing vanilla beans).  Brewing and primary fermentation has already commenced on both of these brews, so I will keep you posted on the progress in the coming weeks.  Until next time, I bid you a tall, frothy, cold one!


— Cryptogrind

Stoumeister here, on the eve of a big event for the Dark Side Brew Crew. Saturday will mark the world debut of Cryptogrind’s homemade ESB. The Crew will gather at his house for food and the first tasting of his first beer. I will let him take you through the plans below, but let it be said that all of us are looking forward to this experience.

As usual, it will be a busy weekend, but we will endeavor to hit up some of our favorite breweries in addition to Saturday’s festivities.

Shilling double-checks the Alibi to make sure there are no other weekend happenings the Crew must attend.

Cryptogrind: This is already shaping up to be a most excellent weekend (already procured tickets for KISS and Motley Crue, an excellent way to start).  Saturday will bring a much anticipated tasting and BBQ shindig with the NMDSBC, where we shall finally get to try out my first homebrewed batch of frosty goodness.  Hopefully my good friend Derek will also show up with some samples of his new chocolate stout as well!  Sunday will bring some much needed biking time, and a trip to La Cumbre to taste these excellent new beers that others in the Crew have already enjoyed.

Stoutmeister: I already stopped by La Cumbre with Shilling and the Professor Emeritus (see previous entry), but Tractor’s Mustachio Milk Stout has been calling my name again, so if I have the time and energy after covering high school and college baseball tonight, I will head back there. Beyond that, I have more baseball to cover during the day Saturday and Sunday (UNM-TCU, it’s a huge series for the Mountain West title; come on out to Isotopes Park to enjoy it — 6 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday, 1 p.m. Sunday). I definitely plan to be at Cryptogrind’s house after Saturday’s game ends. As for Sunday, if any other Crew members feel like a trek out to Rio Rancho to try some of Turtle Mountain’s new beers, I am game after the game.

E-Rock: With music and school taking a large amount of my time these days, I still haven’t had a chance to check out the much celebrated Mustachio Milk Stout at Tractor.  I plan on rectifying this situation with my free time on Friday night and join in on the beer tasting of Cryptogrind’s first batch on Saturday with the rest of the Crew.

Shilling: Well, of course I’ll be with the Crew grilling and tasting Crypto’s hard work in a 12-ounce bottle. I also have two bombers sitting in the fridge that have been calling my name. On top of all that, I’ll be working on typing up our interview with the dudes at Broken Bottle from last week.

Franz Solo: Unfortunately, that darn illness is keeping one of our valued Crew members on the disabled list. We have our fingers crossed that he will be well again soon.

Enjoy your weekend, ABQ! Just remember to enjoy all the fine brews as responsibly as possible.


— The Crew

It always helps to have other members of the Crew around at certain times.

In this latest update in the Brewology series, I will take you through the bottling process, which is arguably the simplest step in brewing your own beer, as I found out.  It also turns out to be a great way to gather friends together; what better way to promote bonding than by helping out with bottling some delicious home brewed beer?

After approximately a week in the secondary fermenter, the ESB was ready to take the leap into bottling.  The majority of time was spent with Shilling and myself doing our prep work, which meant sterilizing all of our equipment, bottles, etc. As a first-time homebrewer, I can tell you once again that cleaning and sterilization is going to be one of your main keys to getting the best tasting beer.  There are a lot of products available to aid in this process, and I’ll discuss them further on.  As a time-saving tip, I would recommend doing your cleaning and sterilization well ahead of time; you don’t want to spend hours cleaning bottles and gear when you were planning to start bottling early in the evening.  Needless to say, we found this out the hard way, as we started much later then we had planned.  But trial and error can lead to good lessons for future use.

My new bottling hat. We take ourselves very seriously.

We proceeded to siphon the brew into my bottling bucket from the glass carboy in order to filter out the last bit of sediment that was remaining.  After this, we simply took the priming sugar, which was dissolved in warm water, and slowly stirred it in the beer.  Again we started a siphon and were ready to begin bottling.  This went very quickly, as we started a DIY assembly line with myself filling bottles and Shilling capping them; it was as easy as that.  The brewing kit I purchased came with a large bag of caps and a dual lever capper, as well as the bottle filling attachment.

From start to finish, the bottling itself took about a half an hour, after which we stored the bottles away in cases and in a cool part of the house where they will be sitting for about another week to attain adequate carbonation.  Now we simply play the waiting game again, and we shall finally get to reap the benefits of all the hard work and enjoy a (hopefully) delicious ESB!

Shilling demonstrates proper technique

The rest of the Crew and a few friends will be having a BBQ to taste my brew, as well as my good friend Derek’s chocolate stout that is carbonating at the same time.  Next time I will be doing a quick review of the beers, as well as discussing recipes and equipment for future use as well.  So to my brothers and sisters of beer, I bid you farewell, until next time …


— Cryptogrind