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Messages - skyler

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Commercial Beer Reviews / Stone Pale Ale 2.0
« on: June 22, 2015, 12:34:24 PM »
As a lukewarm fan of Stone Pale Ale, I was looking forward to the new version, assuming it would be hoppier, drier, and maybe lighter in color/abv. I was wrong on all counts. Anyway, here's how it would go down if I was judging this one in a homebrew comp.

Poured from bottle

Aroma - mild orange and grassy hops, sweet malt, lightly fruity (from hops or yeast) 5

Appearance - Deep gold/light amber, clear, thin head 3

Flavor - Biscuit and sweet malt upfront, then excessive bitterness. Not very hoppy, but there is a distracting slight orange and herbal hoppy quality reminiscent of orange juice from concentrate. Maltier and less aromatic than 1.0 and simultaneously too bitter and too sweet without striking a balance between the two. 6

Mouthfeel - Medium to full body, nice carbonation. A bit big for the style. 3

Overall impression - This doesn't taste like a more modern or updated pale ale, but like an amateurish attempt at showcasing Mandarina Bavaria. Fermentation character seems clean enough, but otherwise this beer is unbalanced. I suspect the malt base would make for a pleasant beer if it were much less bitter, but the bitterness combined with low hop aroma makes this very fresh bottle taste like it has spent the past two years in the back of the refrigerator. 4

Score: 21/50

This as a replacement for the overpriced-but-delicious Stone Pale Ale 1.0 is very disappointing. Yuck.

Beer Travel / Re: Latest can't miss suggestions for Portland please
« on: June 14, 2015, 09:01:44 AM »
My favorites are Breakside, Deschutes, Hair of the Dog, and Hopworks. The Commons and Upright are good for unique Belgian styles. Cascade is also a good spot for sour beers. I also like Migration and Bridgeport for happy hour, though neither will blow you away with their beer (good, not great).

Places I would skip: anywhere owned by Rogue, Alameda, Tug Boat, Baerlic, Base Camp, Occidental, Kell's (obviously).

10 Barrel got bought out by Anheuser-Busch, but the beer is still excellent and food is good. McMenamin's has crappy beer, but they are fun places to watch movies or play pool.

Perhaps I should just be looking into opening a beer cart or bar and forget about industrial brewing for another several years.

I think that's the direction I'd be looking.

Yeah, the truth is that, more than anything else, I would like to have a place to go to that is as nice and comfortable as any of the good pubs in Britain that I miss so much. Serving my own beer seemed like icing on the cake, but I think It's smarter to move from beer cart to beer bar to brewpub rather than trying to do two things at once while teaching high school English September to June.

Thanks, Denny. It's good to hear that from someone reasonably local. If I try to talk about it to most Portlanders I know, everyone thinks food cart + craft beer = massive profit. The math I've done implies that it only works if the cart itself can be run essentially without me and sell an average 5 pints an hour.

In truth, the beer cart and brewery are two different businesses that don't necessarily need each other (the brewery needs a tap room, but I don't know that a cart pod is sufficient). Perhaps I should just be looking into opening a beer cart or bar and forget about industrial brewing for another several years.

Something else to consider is that if you prove this is viable under the regulatory environment and a profitable way for a brewery to sell beer that other breweries in Portland are going to start doing the same thing and create competition in that space. Can you rent space in a pod under an agreement with the landlord to exclude other breweries/beer carts in the same space?
Yes, that's how most (if not all) cart pods work. I would have the only beer and wine service in my pod. I should mention that Rogue does have a beer cart in a nicely-located pod (I just found out about it in my research).

Will your beer cart offer something that makes your experience unique (e.g. randalls, keg hopping, casks) that larger breweries cannot efficiently provide in that market? Will the novelty of your operation wear off when others do the same thing and diminish sales?
Actually yes. Although the concept was based on the idea that a cart was simply the cheapest way to get beer out, I am a big fan of cask beer and basically none of the breweries in Portland consistently serve English ale on cask. The few that do all serve the cask beer ice cold, which ruins it for me. There is, at present, no brewery in Portland that has a particularly "British" tilt. I would be offering English ales and IPA's and would attempt to have some sort of English-inspired branding. As for dry hopping, dry beaning, and the like, that is reasonably easy to achieve when you're using firkins and pins anyway.

With that in mind, would it make sense to try to buy out your own pod where you could necessarily exclude other beer sales and select the quality of food that surrounds your beer?

A few reasons: 1) there is not much real estate that is "pod-worthy" in inner east side Portland that isn't already a pod. What remains isn't for sale. 2) I don't have half a million dollars to spend. 3) If I had that much money, I would open a larger production brewpub in a brick and mortar location.

Ingredients / Re: Old Malt
« on: June 06, 2015, 08:04:06 AM »
It is the strangest thing - I haven't ever had this problem before and I brew a lot of low-gravity beers.

Ingredients / Old Malt
« on: June 05, 2015, 02:41:04 PM »
I brewed a 1.040 pale ale not so long ago with golden promise left over from a long ago brew day (more than one year). The malt was in an airtight "vittles vault" container the whole time, so I figured it was worth using. Anyway, the beer came out oddly astringent. I even used polyclar to try to clean it of the tannins to little avail. It doesn't taste stale or anything, just a little astringent, like a back of the throat bitterness. I don't think the problem was caused by the water or the hops, so it must be from the malt or the process. I don't think I oversparged (I batch sparged), but I suppose it's possible. My question is whether old malt can do this or if I must have just sparged too aggressively this time?

I'm looking for honest feedback. I haven't 100% sold myself on my idea or anything, but I think it makes sense within the limited confines of this great city (Portland).

I live in Portland and am coming into a decent chunk of money to invest (high five figures to low six figures) in the next month or two. As I am still just 31 and I am already on my second career (and not really happy about it), I am considering trying to start a brewery, but not right away. My plan is to first open a beer cart. Here in Portland, we have several "pods" of food carts - essentially plots of land filled with trailors or trucks that serve restaurant-quality food. The carts usually have longterm or month-month leases and they are fun and interesting. Some carts have gone on to expand into brick and mortar restaurants, some have become small chains. Many more just trod along or close down. They've become an established restaurant format over the past decade or so, but nowhere more than Portland. For the past year, beer and wine have been allowed and now most (but not all) of the good pods in Portland have a "beer cart."

My plan is to open one of these beer carts or buy an existing one, then get a lawyer to clear all the paperwork for a nano-brewery, aligning the name of the cart and the brewery so that, when I open a brewery, my beer cart can be my "tasting room" and the brand will already be a little bit established. My plan is to rely on the beer cart's success first, then transition into selling my own beer from a 3BBL (or smaller) system. The thought is that I could have a storefront in a central neighborhood with relatively cheap real estate, while brewing in the cheapest lowest-rent chunk of real estate in Portland. And I wouldn't have to worry about running a pub, just brewing, filling my own kegs, and selling beer by the pint (mine and others).

Also, in this plan, I would keep my day job, brew by myself (or with buddies) and would hire someone (probably two people part time) to work the taps most of the time - at least for the first year or two (I get summers off, so I would be more active during the high season). I would enter every festival/competition and would save/invest everything back into the business for the first year or two and would eventually try hand bottling some "special" beers in 750mL Belgian bottles, and maybe getting a mobile canner or bottler to come around. The ultimate endgame would be to expand to a decent-sized brewpub.

Assuming I can do all this without taking out any loans, does this sound workable?

For the past three years I have been chilling my wort with a whirlpool immersion chiller ( and a pump. It chills very fast and it is easy enough to clean and sanitize, but I also bought it because of the purported benefits of a hop whirlpool. After some trial and error, I have been doing a hop stand by replacing my flame-out hops with whirlpool hops that I add after chilling the wort to just under 180F, at which point I add the whirlpool hops and let stand for 10-30 min, then chill again. This has been effective, but frankly I still got better late-hop aroma from my flameout hops when I had a simple immersion chiller that took 2-4 hours (and a small lake's worth of precious Californian water) to chill my wort down to near-pitching temps.

I was wondering what other people who use a pump to whirlpool and hop stand do. Do you chill down partially before adding the hop charge? Do you add flameout hops as well as whirlpool hops? Do you give it a longer hop stand? A shorter hop stand?

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Who Has Experienced BRY-97 Slow Start?
« on: February 26, 2015, 08:04:06 PM »
IME, BRY-97 is more temperature-sensitive (with regards to cold fermentation) than other strains of Chico (and the like). While I have fermented Pacman as low as 52F once (56F on several occasions) and US-05, WLP001, and WY1056 have all given me good results in the 58F-60F range, BRY-97 hasn't enjoyed temperatures below 64F for me. I still slightly prefer it over US-05 because it has been a little more flocculant for me and hasn't ever given me the peachy "dry yeast" flavor, I consider it a much more delicate yeast than the other similar strains.

Ingredients / Re: Carawheat in an IPA/APA/AAA
« on: August 31, 2014, 10:09:37 AM »
I have used carawheat and enjoyed the flavor contribution.  I feel that it isn't quite as full tasting as your normal crystal/caramel malts but does provide a nice sweetness to the beer depending on % used.

That's good to hear. I have used caramunich in place of similar-colored crystal several times, but I was assuming carawheat was basically just a crystal malt and wouldn't be much of a distraction in this beer.

The malt bill is like this:
94% Great Western 2-row
4% Great Western White Wheat Malt
2% CaraWheat
2% CaraMunich

Shooting for 1.060 to ~1.011 (82%). I will be mashing at 150F for 60 min, no mashout.

Yeast: 6 gal BRY-97 and 6 gal something else (probably and English yeast)

And the hops:

90g Amarillo FWH
25g Chinook 60 min
90g Amarillo 10 min
90g Citra 10 min
90g Amarillo 0 min
45g Citra 0 min
45g Chinook 0 min
60g Amarillo dry
30g Citra dry
30g Chinook dry

Ingredients / Carawheat in an IPA/APA/AAA
« on: August 27, 2014, 08:13:11 AM »
Hey, I am planning top brew my first beer since April - an IPA to celebrate my move back to Portland, Oregon. And since I still have a ton of 2013 hops that I would like to use up before the 2014 batch arrives, I went to my LHBS (where I used to be a regular customer back in 2008-2010) and maybe became a little too interested in the different malts that were available. So instead of getting IPA-specialty malts I was planning on getting (light crystal, medium crystal, and wheat malt), I decided to buy a half pound each of caramunich and carawheat along with a pound of white wheat malt (this is a 12 gal batch).

Then I realized I had never brewed with carawheat before and had only ever noticed it in wheat beer recipes. I was already planning on adding some wheat to this IPA (something I occasionally do), but is the flavor contribution of carawheat far off from a regular crystal of the same color? What should I expect?

it's fine

Kegging and Bottling / Re: Belgian Corks for Champagne Bottles?
« on: February 19, 2014, 10:05:28 AM »
I use this Ferarri Bench Corker:

Basically, it squeezes down any cork to the size of a standard wine bottle, then plunges it in. A Belgian-style cork is about the maximum size that will fit, but it still does fit.

Kegging and Bottling / Re: Belgian Corks for Champagne Bottles?
« on: February 18, 2014, 02:20:00 PM »
BTW, I discovered you can if you have a good-quality corker (I do).

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