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Messages - skyler

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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).

Kegging and Bottling / Belgian Corks for Champagne Bottles?
« on: February 11, 2014, 02:54:17 PM »
I was wondering if Belgian-style corks (designed for Belgian bottles) would fit into Champagne bottles. Any experience?

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Mangrove Jack's Dry Yeast
« on: September 01, 2013, 08:49:43 AM »
Just thought I would chime in to say the beer I made with the West Coast Ale Yeast came out well. I would compare this yeast to WLP051. It is less dry than using Chico and the hop expression is a little more restrained, but it is clean, fairly flocculant, and made a good beer.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Mangrove Jack's Dry Yeast
« on: July 18, 2013, 11:47:16 AM »
I finally tried using a sachet of the Mangrove Jack US West Coast Ale Yeast. I just sprinkled the sachet directly onto 6 gallons of 1.043 hoppy session ale. It took a lot longer (36 hrs) to get visibly active than I am used to (12-24 hrs), and the fermentation has been foamier than usual for an American-style yeast (the yeast seems to be behaving like an English strain). The recipe is 5% wheat malt and 10% crystal malt, but still - the aggressive foamy activity at 64º F after over a day and a half of nothing... I don't think this is Chico.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Wyeast 1010 vs Chico
« on: June 27, 2013, 08:56:15 AM »
As I believe 1010 is the Widmer strain, I would comment that I don't think it is necessarily a "wheat beer yeast" but just a basic American ale yeast with a bit more character than 1056. I find widmer's pale ale and black IPA to be severely underrated. That said, chico is so consistent that I have never even tried using 1010.

The beer improved a tremendous amount in almost every way after I added that extra bottle. So I will say this about the stuff (used in very high quantities):

  • Sinamar adds probably 3.5 SRM per ounce per 5.5 gal batch of beer, not the 5 SRM that is advertised.
  • Sinamar does not noticeably contribute to body the way roasted malt does
  • Sinamar provides a VERY LITTLE amount of roasted malt flavor - which can make your light crystal taste like dark crystal
  • Sinamar is more expensive than dark malts
  • Sinamar can be added to the keg

All in all, I would now consider Sinamar more of a "back up" or "fixer" than an ideal ingredient in most applications. I certainly see how it would be great to use some of the stuff to "fix" a malty pale ale by magically turning it into an Amber Ale, or to "fix" a roasty amber ale by turning it into a Brown Ale. But the flavor contribution of Sinamar in high quantities is potent enough to cause me not to want to use it in the traditional way (Schwartbier and Munich Dunkel) because the flavor just isn't as non-existent as I would want, and I find the flavor from Carafa Special malts to be superior. Also, I won't use this in a Black IPA again, except for in cases where, for some reason, I didn't get enough color and I wanted to adjust it after brewing.

I calculated for wort loss. It saus each bottle should add 20 SRM to a 5.5 gallon batch of beer. I added two bottles to a 6.5 gallon (including wort lost to hops/kettle) batch and ended up with a ~25 SRM beer. Without any coloring agent, the beer should have been 7-8 SRM, so I really think that either my LHBS shorted me on Sinamar or that the substance just doesn't provide the color it says.

I ended up adding a whole extra bottle to the keg because I was so annoyed. According to my brewing software, I should be over 50 SRM now, but I am in the high thirties/low fourties (black, but not inky). So now I have it where I want it, though I had to add 50% more of the stuff than I would have wanted. Additionally, there is now some coffee notes to the flavor that weren't there before. I call it an improvement. 

I rinsed out the bottle and added the black rinse-water to a rye bread dough I am going to bake tomorrow - it looked like I got pretty good color out of that, at least.

I regularly overpitch with slurry because I am concerned that there is break matter and hops in the slurry and that I have fewer cells than it appears. This is especially true with this brewery's yeast, which seemingly always comes from their IPA. But it is also true pretty often with my own beers. My wort chilling method tends to send a lot of trub to the fermenter and I NEVER wash yeast.

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