Brew Day: Nebula

Our first brew of 2017 is our Belgian style Tripel, Nebula.  The name comes from the fact that the recipe is mostly a standard Tripel, but with the addition of Galaxy hops for aroma.  The brew day was fun – we had additional help from our friends Andy and Clarissa.  Clarissa is just learning about brewing, so she came along for the educational opportunities, and I’m sure the games and beers didn’ hurt the situation either!

We also recently purchased our own grain mill, because the grain we get from our LHS is never milled very well, unfortunately.  We even ask that it go through the mill a few times, and our efficiency is still much lower than would be expected.  To try to up that efficiency, we purchased our own… but unfortunately it did not come with all of the pieces we needed to get it up and running and we bought the wrong hardware.  SO, back to the LHS to get it milled before we start.

The brew day had its ups and downs.  First off, it was actually REALLY COLD here in San Antonio, to the tune of 20 something degrees when we first got started.  For this recipe we decided to do a 3-step mash to help give the beer more body but still end pretty dry, and we think that the cold was throwing things off in the calculations.  We were over our temp on the first rest (and never got it down to what it should have been), we were over on the 2nd step (but we were able to get it right), and we were almost under on the third, but in the ned we got it working.  We will see how the mash issues affect the final beer. Who knows, maybe the rests that we ended with will be better than what we planned (it’s possible…)

On the good side, we were very close on our pre-boil gravity, we git plenty of wort, and we had some really active yeast that was spun up from a very expired vial.  Also, we drank some great beers, and enjoyed some fun games.  In addition to our standard Exploding Kittens (and a little Yahtzee at the end), Clarissa brought Cards Against Humanity which was a nice addition.  Additionally, as of this morning (maybe 16 hours after pitching the yeast), the krausen is kicking, so we know those yeasties are excited to be in their new home.  Nebula has one of the oddest fermentation schedules of any of our beers, so the next two weeks we will continue to adjust, and we will see what we get in the end.  Delicousness.  That’s the goal.

Brew Day Playlist:
Run the Jewels: RtJ3
Algorhythms: EELRIJUE
Inside Out: No Spiritual Surrender
That Handsome Devil: A City Dressed in Dynamite
TOOL: Undertow
Madvilliany 2: The Madlib Remix
Soul Coughing: The Brooklynites

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Brew Day: Nebula (v.3) and Supernova

After many, many, many years of refusing, I finally gave in and bought a setup to keg my beer.  I gave in for a few reasons… I have WAY too many bottles cluttering up my garage (and found a broken bomber out there just before we started brewing, no bueno), a lot of the more popular competitions here in town require kegged beer and Manny and I want to start competing, and it’s just sweet to be able to go pour yourself a draft at home.  If I want a 1/2 a glass, I can do that and not have to worry about wasting the rest of the bottle.  So I went on Craigslist and found a good double-tap kegerator, and got all the fixings to make it work with some corny kegs.  So now we have this.

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Yes, I made a chalk board tap list. Shut up.

So of course, since there are kegs to be filled, we needed to fill some kegs!  I decided it was time to try our nearly traditional tripel, Nebula, again.  In the past it has been too hop forward, so I dialed down the bitterness and got rid of the dry hopping.  We still use Magnum for the bittering (which is pretty traditional) and Galaxy for the aroma (which is not), but no dry hopping on Nebula this time.  Also, we switched yeasts and are experimenting with Northeast Abbey Yeast from the Yeast Bay (aka the Ommegang house yeast strain, supposedly).

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Mmm hops

However, since Manny and I are both fans of hops, we made 2 batches of Nebula, and are dry hopping one of them.  Dry hopped Nebula has been dubbed Supernova.

nebual and supernova

Nebula (L) and Supernova (R)

So we decided we’d make a big double batch of Nebula and have them side by side for the first tapping of the kegerator.  While our mash tun fit the 26.5 pounds of grain, the 8.5 gallons of water to go on top was a bit of a stretch!  We only got about 7 in, so we had to make our first sparge a bit larger than normal.  I was actually surprised, we didn’t lose very much efficiency even with the unintentional changes… the recipe was slated to hit 1.083 SG and we got to 1.080, so if the yeast ferments out as much as it should, we will be sitting at about 8.27%, only about a 1/4 of a percent lower than expected.  C’mon yeasties, do your thing!

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Popped a bottle of the #150.

We had a pretty packed brewday, as there were the most guests we’ve ever had in one day. Which made for some fun rounds of Exploding Kittens (so much better with 5 people instead of 2!) Overall, besides the mash tun issue, everything went pretty darn smooth.  Two brews in a row of smoothness.  I could get used to that.  I PROBABLY JUST JINXED IT.

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Manny stirs as Mike adds some sugar to the brew.

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Exploding…

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Kittens!

So in about 10 days we will keg these, and not long after we will have the reveal party!  Woot!  Until next time, cheers.

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Smellovision needs to be invented. Please scratch your screen… and imagine.

Brew Day Playlist:
Smashing Pumpkins: Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness: Dawn to Dusk
Mega Gem: Colors of the West
Propellerheads: Decksanddrumsandrockandroll
Queens of the Stone Age: Era Vulgaris
Incubus: Fungus Amongus
Prophets of Rage: Zen Gravy
Primus: Suck on This
Beastie Boys: The Mix Up
Pearl Jam: Vs.

Brew Day: Nebula (v2)

We were invited to come out to Home Brew Party’s grand re-opening on October 4th (Facebook event info here, please come!) so we decided to brew a batch of Nebula for the event.  This time we are shooting for a drier, hoppier version of the original recipe.  We mashed in lower, for longer, to add the dryness and we greatly upped the amount of aroma and dry hops added to the beer.  Along for the ride today was our friend Alex, who just bottled his first batch of homebrew ever (congrats)!

Nebula's first runnings... running.

Nebula’s first runnings… running.

#150 vacates the barrel.

#150 vacates the barrel.

Because we can’t make it simple around here at BBxB, we also bottled #150 out of the whiskey barrel at the same time.  We are so, SO excited about this beer.  We had some that didn’t quite fill up the last bottle, and it’s going to be really good.  Right now the aroma is amazing.  The beer itself is quite hot and strongly bitter, but that’s why we really don’t expect this one to be drinking right until 3-6 months from now, maybe longer.  But on top of that, this one is built to last and I expect #150 to have layers of added complexity over the next 1, 2, probably at least 5 years.  We’ll see what I say about it in 5 years!

Hops...

Hops…

...go in with a little help from our little friends

…go in with a little help from our little friends

The brew day went without incident, we even got a 3-man game of Yahtzee! in.  The only issue (and this is likely from the different mash) was that our OG was lower than before… this won’t be an issue as long as our FG is lower as well.  As of this morning, less than 12 hours later, the beer is fermenting in full swing.  We look forward to sharing it with you in a few weeks.  We will also have at least a few bottles of Lupulus Texensis on hand too… we got to give it a try and wow, it’s pretty damn amazing for something fermented with flowers picked up the street.  If you like brett/funky beers, and you like hops, you’ll not want to miss it.  We will also have glassware for sale and stickers for free, so please come see us!  Until then, cheers!

A bit low, but we'll take it

A bit low, but we’ll take it

Lupulus Texensis looking lovely

Lupulus Texensis looking lovely

Brew Day Playlist:
Atmosphere: Sad Clown Bad Dub 13
One Day as a Lion: One Day as a Lion
Wu-Tang Clan & Jimi Hendrix: Black Gold
Hammerbox: Numb

And for your viewing pleasure, here’s Alex aerating the wort!

Our First Public Event!

Hey everyone!  Thanks to those of you who made it out to Home Brew Party on Bandera for our first public event.  We really enjoyed meeting you and getting your feedback on the beers!  It seems overall we were well received, but there are some things to work on.  That’s exactly what we wanted to know – what can we make better, and what is working right now.  When we have these events, it’s not to make ourselves feel good or pat ourselves on the back, it’s to get good, usable feedback.  Feedback is a gift, positive or negative, so we were glad to get a lot of responses that weren’t just “It’s great!”

What we were pouring (plus Monogamous: Simcoe made it out there too)

What we were pouring (plus Monogamous: Simcoe made it out there too)

Feedback is a gift.

Feedback is a gift.

A few of the peeps that made it out... Hi Nicole and Troy!

A few of the peeps that made it out… Hi Nicole and Troy!

We had a decent sized crowd, and gave away the majority of the beer we brought with us.  The next event is Saturday, 7/18, from 3 – ??? at Boardwalk on Bulverde (14732 Bulverde Rd, San Antonio, TX 78247) and we’d love to see you there.  Please tell your friends.  The more people we can get there, the more honest feedback we can get, which will do nothing but make our beers better for you when you actually have the ability to buy some!  In the mean time, FREE BEER.  We will again have our 1st edition glass for sale for $6 as well.  Manny and I hope to see you, and your friends, and your friend’s friends… cheers!

Bottles as far as the eye could see.... if you are very short sighted.  Let's just say: bottles.

Bottles as far as the eye could see…. if you are very short sighted. Let’s just say: bottles.

Cheers from BBxB to you!

Cheers from BBxB to you!

Brew Day: Drie Door Negen Nevel

This past Sunday we brewed what could be one of our “standard” series of beers, Drie Door Negen Nevel.  This is a Belgian Tripel, but made a bit BBxB by using Australian Galaxy for the aromatic hops.  I (Ryan) decided to go this way because the Belgian yeast, when fermented at the right temperatures, usually gives of fruity esters.  I wanted to compliment these esters with a tropical and fruity aromatic hop.

A Belgian golden by a Texas brewery seemed like an appropriate compliment to brew day. All images © 2015 BBxB

A Belgian golden by a Texas brewery seemed like an appropriate compliment to brew day. All images © 2015 BBxB

Mashing it!

Mashing it!

Overall the day went well.  I had help from Robert, a friend from work who wanted to try out all-grain brewing, and was interested in making a tripel, so DDNN was born.  The name means “3 by 9 Nebula” in Dutch… 3 for the 3 Galaxy additions, 9 for the expected ABV and Nebula as a synonym for Galaxy that sounds better in Dutch (rolls off the tongue better than “Melkeg”).

The vorlauf as we get the wort prepared to boil

The vorlauf as we get the wort prepared to boil

Robert drops the bittering hops into the hop spider

Robert drops the bittering hops into the hop spider

There were a few small setbacks here and there.  I forgot to add the sugar in until a little later in the boil, but I don’t expect this to be an issue.  I also broke my hydrometer… so we’re gonna have to guess on the ABV on this bad boy!  I am really looking forward to see how this one turns out, as Manny and I have been working on filling out our Standard series so that we’ve got a sold baseline to experiment from.

The bittering hops... and a sadly empty glass.

The bittering hops… and a sadly empty glass.

The Spider, doing it's thing.  I hope this will lend to clearer beer.

The Spider, doing it’s thing. I hope this will lend to clearer beer.

Two weeks from now, we will brew again, and I’m thinking it might be time for the return of And The Answer is: None. None More Black. so that it can be ready for our adventure in the 3rd week in June!

Brew Day Playlist:
Atmosphere: God Loves Ugly
Queens of the Stone Age: Era Vulgaris
Tenacious D: Tenacious D
SCG: Naughty Brilliant
Sublime: 40oz. to Freedom