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

Brew Day: Inked and Canela de Vainilla Inked

Today we took step 2 of 7 toawrds prepping for our hopeful investor’s dinner in the spring.  Today we brewed one of our standard beers, Inked (an oatmeal stout), and one of its Brazen counterparts, Canela de Vainilla Inked (cinnamon vanilla).  During this brew session, we worked some on our business plan, and it is getting closer to being done.  We are hoping that before the end of 2017 you will be able to buy a pint from us!

The brew day wasn’t as great as we had hoped.  First, it was actually cold in San Antonio.  Not complaining… because I complain about the heat most of the year, but still.  Cold.  Made all the hot liquids look cool, though.  Secondly, we ended up low in both our volume of beer and our Original Gravity (potential alcohol).  So, likely, Inked and CdV Inked are going to be lower than their original expectations, unless the Final Gravity ends lower (and dryer) as well. These issues of small variations will be less problematic when we have a more automated system.  As of now we are a very manual process, which means lots of opportunity to introduce human error.

We are going to be brewing a lot, and brewing more than we can serve at one investor’s dinner, so we intend to have some tastings this spring as well.  If you have an idea of a place we can serve homebrew (the rules per TABC: the location must not have a license to serve alcohol, and we need to be able to give it away in return for a “review,” so we will be asking for feedback) please email ryan@brazenbexarbrewing.com and we’ll be best buddies.

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Ryan, checking Inked on the refractometer.

Looking forward to see how these turn out… 🙂

Brew Day Playlist:
A Tribe Called Quest: We Got it From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service
Beastie Boys: Ill Communication
CZARFACE: A Fistful of Peril
Dangerdoom: Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid
Deftones: B-Sides and Rarities
Devo: Freedom of Choice
Alice In Chains: Nothing Safe

Brew Day: Monogamous – Citra (and FREE BEER events!!!)

I (Ryan) have a week off from work, and since I didn’t really get a chance to go anywhere, I’m dubbing it my Beercation.  Let me be clear, that is a vacation WITH beer, not a vacation FROM beer!  A good friend from high school (in Germany!), Chris, came to town as well.  Chris has recently started brewing himself, so we decided that one of the activities while he was here is that we would do his first all-grain brew day, and I decided that I’d try my updated malt bill for Monogamous.  This time it’s Monogamous: Citra.

Our nice digital thermometer broke, so we had to use the manual one (which means sitting over a hot pot in a hot garage...)

Our nice digital thermometer broke, so we had to use the manual one (which means sitting over a hot pot in a hot garage…)

Chris stirring the mash

Chris stirring the mash

I built a yeast starter a few days earlier of Conan aka Vermont Ale yeast (aka the yeast that is in Heady Topper), and on Wednesday we got to it.  This was a pretty uneventful brew day… no major spillage, no major accidents, and the drinking was a bit more reserved on this one.  That is partially because of past experience, and partially because it was hot as hell in the garage.

Mmmmmmmm... Citra!

Mmmmmmmm… Citra!

...and Turbinado!

…and Turbinado!

We ended up getting a little lower volume than expected from the mash/sparge, and it ended up boiling a bit longer than expected, so the overall volume of beer was a bit diminished.  The OG ended up a tiny bit lower than was anticipated as well, but not significantly so.  I have high hopes that M:C is going to be a much better IPA than Monogamous: Simcoe was.  Once I get the malt bill dialed in to exactly what I want, I will eventually re-visit Simcoe hops and see the difference.

In goes Conan, the beer barbarian!

In goes Conan, the beer barbarian!

Fermenting away!

Fermenting away!

And you can come out and try our beers… SOON!  Really!  It’s official!!!  Wednesday, July 1st, BBxB will be pouring FREE BEER and selling glasses at Home Brew Party Bandera (8407 Bandera Rd, Ste 103) from 5-8 https://www.facebook.com/events/411086812419558/ and on Saturday, July 18th, at Boardwalk on Bulverde food truck park (14732 Bulverde Rd) from 3 – ??? https://www.facebook.com/events/1622071531394881/ Hope to see you there!

Brew Day Playlist:
Red Hot Chili Peppers – The Uplift Mofo Party Plan
Soul Coughing – Ruby Vroom
Reel Big Fish – Turn the Radio Off
Saul Williams – The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust

Brew Day: Monogamy (Simcoe)

Today we crafted what will hopefully be the first beer in our Standard series, our IPA: Monogamy.  It is dubbed Monogamy because it is a single hop IPA that will be brewed with the same malt bill and yeast (assuming we like this malt bill and yeast!) each time, but with a rotating cast of single hops.  The first iteration is Monogamy (Simcoe).

Starting the day with morning coffee in my Branchline mug while filtering some San Antonio water. All pictures ©2015 BBxB

The weather out side is frightful... so today we'll be brewing in the garage.

The weather out side is frightful… so today we’ll be brewing in the garage.

At 10 or so in the morning it was pouring out, so I (Ryan) decided to set this brew day up in the garage.  By 1:30 when Manny and some guests (Roxanne and Mark who were here on academic reasons, and Raul who was here for libation-ic reasons) arrived and we got set up, the sun was shining and the humidity was blasting.

Heating the mash water

Heating the mash water

This mash tun is amazing... with no top offs, it lost less than 1.5 degrees in 75 minutes.

This mash tun is amazing… with no top offs, it lost less than 1.5 degrees in 75 minutes.

The brew went pretty smooth overall.  We hung out, listened to music, drank (mostly) good beers and enjoyed good company in my not-super-hot and not-super-humid garage.  No sunburn this time like Tuesday, no foot burn (because we didn’t lose any mash water due to a not-quite-closed spigot), no big issues.

Manny

Manny “supervising” the wort coming to a boil

Ryan pretending like he's doing something important, but really just enjoying the warm hop steam facial.

Ryan pretending like he’s doing something important, but really just enjoying the warm hop steam facial.

We tried something a bit new today, running the cooled wort through a sanitized filter bag to remove the excess hop matter before putting it in the fermenter… and I wasn’t too impressed with the results.  The mesh was too fine, and it was a pain in the ass getting all of the wort out.  Manny had to literally squeeze it out with his bare (sanitized) hands.  Next time we’re going to look into just isolating the hops in the wort to begin with instead of trying to separate them at the end.

Roxanne and Mark keeping the wort chiller running strong (and trying to kill my weeds with the hot water)

Roxanne and Mark keeping the wort chiller running strong (and trying to kill my weeds with the hot water).

And finally, for your viewing pleasure, here's a pig dressed as a green bunny on a skateboard.  You're welcome.

And finally, for your viewing pleasure, here’s a pig dressed as a green bunny on a skateboard. You’re welcome.

Brew day Playlist:
Soul Coughing – Irresistible Bliss
Allen Stone – Allen Stone
Doc Delay & Godforbid – American Style Cardboard
Primus – Antipop
White Zombie – Astro-Creep 2000