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.

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Brew Day: #lovewins

Back on June 26, 2015, history changed.  With the ruling by the SCOTUS, legal marriage has been re-defined.  For both myself (Ryan) and Manny, this was a very welcomed decision as we both have people that we love that now have more options in their lives.  Love is love.  In celebration of the decision in general, and specifically for my friends Michelle and Cindy who went out DAY 1 in Texas and did what they have been wanting to do for a very long time, we decided to brew a celebratory beer.  Michelle and Cindy both like Amber Ale, and BBxB had not made one of these yet, so it seemed a perfect fit.  However, since we’re not going to do anything too plain, and because love is spicy, we added some rye and some spicy hops (Nugget and Cluster) to make our Rye Amber Ale, #lovewins.

It's super-hot in the garage in San Antonio in July, so we built a redneck AC unit out of a cooler, fan, tubing, and ice.  And it worked!

It’s super-hot in the garage in San Antonio in July, so we built a redneck AC unit out of a cooler, fan, tubing, and ice. And it worked!

The color on our first runnings was really nice... this should be right spot on visually.

The color on our first runnings was really nice… this should be right spot on visually.

The brew went really well, without any of the normal pitfalls.  No spills, no mess-ups, just a great brewday.  We hit our temp in the mash, added a mash-out step, did a 2 batch sparge, ended up with slightly more wort than expected, but then after boil off we were almost exactly where we wanted to be.  The hops both smelled great (this is our first beer utilizing Nugget), and Manny picked up a new probe thermometer, so we didn’t have to stand over the sweltering pot!

HJops go in...

Hops go in…

Hops in a "sock"

Hops in a “sock”

We’re really looking forward to letting you all try this one.  The Amber ale was my starting point with craft beer, and if this recipe turns out good it could eventually be a part of our Standard series.  The rye addition should not be overpowering, but should add a bit of complexity and depth that I often find lacking in Amber ales, and paired with these spicier hops I think we are going to end up with something really nice.  Unfortunately it won’t be ready for our 7/18 event at Boardwalk on Bulverde, but Agrio Inked (our sour stout) will be, so we’re excited about sharing that one with you all!  Until then, cheers!

Um... yeah.  Saggy.

Um… yeah. Saggy.

Right about where it should be :)

Right about where it should be 🙂

Brew Day Playlist:
Aesop Rock – Skelethon
Queens of the Stone Age – …Like Clockwork
Skulastic – Skulastic
Snot – Snot
Tenacious D – Tenacious D

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