Thursday, December 27, 2007

Auf Wiedersehen, 2007

The year's finally winding down. This week, we ran out of three beers, bringing our total on tap down to six. I transferred seven barrels of root beer into the cellar, cleaned the draft lines, filled kegs, delivered some root beer to Council Bluffs, filled more kegs, and made seven barrels of Red Cream Soda. The plan for the rest of the year and beyond:

  • Friday 12/28: Brew seven barrels of Uncle Ivan's Dunkelweizen.

  • Monday 12/31: Clean the brewhouse, and get ready for tomorrow's annual inventory extravaganza.

  • Tuesday 1/1: New Year's Day is always Inventory Day at Gottberg/Dusters. A team of accountants come in and watch us count every damn thing in the place, and ask us what every damn thing in the place is worth. It wouldn't be so bad if we could use the data to run the business, but we won't get the report back until September or later. It's a Complete Waste of Time. But I'll clean the draft lines and let them soak overnight, and maybe do the monthly taxes and the yearly production report.

  • Wednesday 1/2: Brew a batch of Empress of Darkness, an "imperial" Porter. We'll have it ready for the Extreme Beer Fest at the Crescent Moon Ale House on February 23.

  • There are some minor maintenance things that need doing; I'll get to them later in the week.

Beer losing its fizzle in Germany

More bad news from Germany, or rather, more bad news for German heritage. Do they just not realize how wonderful their German beer is? Do they really think that Miller Lite is what they should be drinking?

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germans are losing their taste for beer, according to the German brewery association.

Per-capita consumption of beer in Germany, once the world's largest consumer of the drink, fell by 3.5 liters in 2007 to 112.5 liters -- the eighth decline in the last nine years.

More details at Yahoo! News.

Clio Awards

OK, so they don't promote beer, but these award-winning advertisements for 42 Below Vodka are astoundingly entertaining.

42 Below Vodka Ad: Crabs

Click on the image above to view them all.

[Edit 2008-01-01] Here's a translation of the ad pictured above. You're on your own figuring out the rest of them.

  • Guy wakes up

  • takes a shower

  • eats his breakfast

  • brushes his teeth

  • drives to his office

  • takes a cab to the airport

  • and the plane takes off.

  • Stewardess brings him a drink

  • and another one

  • and another one.

  • He goes to the lavatory

  • and has sex with the stewardess.

  • He has another drink

  • and gets her phone number.

  • The flight arrives

  • and he takes a cab to his hotel.

  • He calls the stewardess

  • and has another drink.

  • She shows up with a friend.

  • They have a couple of drinks

  • and go to bed.

  • He has sex with both of them.

  • They have a smoke

  • and another drink.

  • He wakes up the next morning

  • takes a shower

  • and discovers he has crabs.

Got it?

Why hangovers can't be cured

We all know how we're going to feel next Tuesday. (Hey, I have to work next Tuesday!) Newsweek explains how we get into that unpleasant state, and why abstinence (yeah, right) is the only way around it.

While hangovers have plagued revelers since early hominids kicked back with some date-palm wine, science still doesn't have a good understanding of how your I-love-everybody yuletide cheer turns into such a biological bah-humbug. There are few studies that examine the hangover and the best way to cure it. But what science theorizes about the hangover may be enough to make any reveler skip the holiday binge.

Read all the bad news at Newsweek.

Mexican company launches beer in honor of unofficial drug saint

Here in the USA, we can't even put Santa Claus on a label in some states. You ever get the feeling there's way too many rules here?

Jesus Malverde is considered a Mexican Robin Hood and the patron saint of drug lords.

On Wednesday, he got his own beer.

[Cervecería Minerva] in the western city of Guadalajara began selling the Malverde beer in the northwestern state of Sinaloa, long considered one of the country's main drug strongholds.

Read the whole story at the Arizona Daily Star.

Help heroes by drinking beeros

A brewery has launched a new beer to help wounded troops.

All profits from Help For Heroes Spitfire Ale will go to the charity it is named after.

And brewer Shepherd Neame is even giving away 10,000 bottles to our Iraq heroes.

Read the entire article and find out how you can contribute at The Sun Online.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

No sugar tonight in my root beer

I drove out to Duncan this morning only to find that they couldn't spare any sugar, and that they might not have any for a week or more. Adam said he'll order 250 pounds of Emergency Backup Sugar from his kitchen supplier. It will be here on Friday, but I won't. And I won't have time to make the soda on Monday, and the pub is closed on Tuesday for some damn reason. I'll plan on making it next Wednesday, and maybe tapping the red pop on Thursday.

So instead of making root beer and red cream soda, I'm doing tomorrow's keg work today. Then tomorrow I'll...I'll...I'll think of something.

[Added 2007-12-19 4:44pm] Criminey. I'm all done with the kegs and the paperwork, and I'm relaxing (well, actually I was working on a side project) at the bar when the bartender says, "Jeez, this beer is foamy. I just can't get it to pour right. And it's warm, too." So I go to the cellar to check it out. Turns out the machine that keeps the draft lines cold has frozen up. The glycol reservoir is a solid block of ice. I melted all the ice with hot water, and siphoned out what was left. (Write this down: moldy glycol water doesn't taste good.) One of the two recirculation pumps was kaputt. Fortunately, Willie the Maintenance Guy showed up and helped me get the machine running. The working pump was sending coolant to some lines that we haven't used in years, so we swapped those lines for the ones we actually use, and all appears well now. One more beer, then I go home.

Monday, December 17, 2007

December, week 3

Last week's plan was almost completely successful! I got just about everything done that I intended to do.

This weekend, the Jack of Spades Schwarzbier ran out, as did the Red Cream Soda. I don't have anything to replace the Schwarzbier, and I probably won't for some time, but that's OK. I need to come up with 250 pounds of sugar so I can make a new batch of soda, though.

After physical therapy this morning, I'm cleaning the draft lines, and a pile of kegs, and three fermenters, and catching up some paperwork, and I should probably do the excise taxes too. The Chamber of Commerce is having some kind of party at a local car dealership tonight, and they asked me to pour some Hefeweizen, so I have to get all that stuff ready to go.

Tuesday: brew another batch of All-American Gold.

Wednesday: if there's any sugar at the plant, I'll run out there and pick it up, then make seven barrels of Red Cream Soda and 14 barrels of Root Beer.

Thursday: physical therapy again, and fill the keg orders.

Friday: pick up Paris at the airport. She's finally done with this project in New Jersey. Her next assignment may involve a week in Dublin; I need to be sure I'm all caught up so I can go along.

There's probably more, but that's all I can think of for now. Time to go rinse the fermenter.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Man drank 48 cans of lager a day

I agree with the judge: "It almost defies belief how anyone can drink 48 cans of lager a day and a bottle or two of spirits."

A chronic Preston alcoholic has told how he used to drink 48 cans of lager and two bottles of brandy every day.

But 28-year-old Sean Whiteside from Preston has pledged to beat his demons for good after cutting down his boozing - to 30 cans a day.

[He] gave up work 12 months ago after his addiction became too much.

He says he is unable to work and has put in a claim for incapacity benefit because of his illness.

Read the entire astonishing story at the Lancashire Evening Post.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Club tells pensioner to break wind outside

This story, erm...speaks for itself.

A retired bus driver who has drunk in the same social club for 20 years has been told to step outside when he breaks wind, because his flatulence is "disgusting" other customers.

Mr Fox said that he had tried to calm his flatulence by switching from cider to bitter, but admitted that the six pints of Bass he drinks a day still leave him feeling gassy.

There's more — lots more — at The Telegraph.

December at the brewery

December is a surprisingly slow time in the brewery. The restaurant does its best business this time of year, but I guess the shoppers don't drink much beer.

Last week:

  • Cleaned the lines, did the monthly taxes.

  • Made 14 barrels of root beer

  • Ordered some draft parts.

  • Filled a few kegs.

This week:

  • Monday: PT this morning, transfer 7 barrels of root beer this afternoon

  • Tuesday: Clean the lines, dump the old batch of Pale Ale, keg off the Novemberfest and Gold, clean the bright beer tanks

  • Wednesday: Filter the new batches of Gold and Pale, and transfer the Hefeweizen

  • Thursday: Pick up Paris in Omaha

  • Friday: PT in the morning, clean and fill kegs, clean the fermenters

That's the plan, anyway.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

No No No! to Santa beer label

Last year, Connecticut. This year, Maine and New York. When will the madness end?

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A beer distributor says Maine is being a Scrooge by barring it from selling a beer with a label depicting Santa Claus enjoying a pint of brew.

In a complaint filed in U.S. District Court, Shelton Brothers accuses the Maine Bureau of Liquor Enforcement of censorship for denying applications for labels for Santa's Butt Winter Porter [An excellent beer -RDS] and two other beers it wants to sell in Maine.

Read the entire article at Seacoast Online.

Police told how to spot a drunk

Someone in the UK government got paid to come up with this. They should have titled it "How to harass customers and workers in a pub".

Around 90 police basic command units in England and Wales are involved in the operation, which could see barstaff being hit with an £80 fixed-penalty fine if found “knowingly” selling to someone who is drunk.

However a fine can only be issued by a uniformed officer.

Selling to a drunk customer is an offence under the Licensing Act, but confusion over what defines “drunk” has engulfed the trade – until now.

Plain-clothed officers have been told that behaviour such as “rambling conversation”, “an unkempt appearance”, “being careless with money”, and “spilling drinks” is all evidence to prove somebody is drunk.

Other indicators, according to the document, are “fumbling for cigarettes” and “bumping into furniture”.

Police in each area will visit two “nominated” premises on two nights each weekend up until Christmas Eve, with up to 1,500 premises being targeted in total.

The actual list of drunken traits appears later in the article, which you can read in its entirety at The Publican.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Crescent Moon Holiday Beer Fest

Crescent Moon Ale House in Omaha hosted its Holiday Beer Fest this past Saturday night. It was phenomenally well-attended, with more than 200 tickets sold in advance, and at least 50 more sold at the door. Brewery and wholesaler representatives as well as local homebrewers were on hand, pouring samples of at least 60 different beers.

Everybody had a program listing all the beers, and more than a few said they were going to try to taste them all. I'd sure like to hear from anybody who did; we're talking about a total of more than a gallon of high-test beers.

As always, Bill put on a great show, and I can't wait for the next one. Maybe by then I'll have replaced my antique camera so I can show you the good times you missed.

How to build a kegerator

If you haven't done so, do it now. The parts exclusive of the refrigerator will set you back less than $100.

You can find the instructions at wikiHow.

Wyoming lawmakers consider higher tax on beer

Wyoming beer drinkers: contact your state legislators to oppose this proposed 225% increase in the state beer tax.

CHEYENNE - Here's a tax increase sure to make people cry in their beer.

That's right: Lawmakers are considering a tax increase on beer, and proponents say the mental health and substance abuse treatment that would benefit are good causes.

Wyoming currently taxes beer at 2 cents per gallon. A draft bill before the Select Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse would raise that to 6.5 cents per gallon.

Read the entire article at the Billings Gazette.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Canadian Beer Drinkers Threaten Planet

I'll have to check to see if my beer fridge is Energy Star-rated now.

Scientists have found a new threat to the planet: Canadian beer drinkers.

The government-commissioned study says the old, inefficient "beer fridges" that one in three Canadian households use to store their Molson and Labatt's contribute significantly to global warming by guzzling gas- and coal-fired electricity.

Read the entire article at Fox News.

Around the world in 60 pubs

This is my kind of vacation! Maybe next year...

Around the world in 60 pubs - map

  1. London

  2. Düsseldorf

  3. Praha

  4. Maria Alm

  5. München

  6. Reykjavik

  7. Phuket

  8. Auckland

  9. Queenstown

  10. Honolulu

  11. Cancun

You can find all the details at World's Biggest Pub Crawl.

Thou shalt not buy too much of our beer

Westvleteren: the best beer you'll probably never taste.

In bars from Brussels to Boston, and online, it sells for more than $15 for an 11-ounce bottle -- 10 times what the monks ask -- if you can get it.

For the 26 monks at St. Sixtus, however, success has brought a spiritual hangover as they fight to keep an insatiable market in tune with their life of contemplation.

The monks are doing their best to resist getting bigger. They don't advertise and don't put labels on their bottles. They haven't increased production since 1946. They sell only from their front gate. You have to make an appointment and there's a limit: two, 24-bottle cases a month. Because scarcity has created a high-priced gray market online, the monks search the net for resellers and try to get them to stop.

"We sell beer to live, and not vice versa," says Brother Joris, the white-robed brewery director. Beer lovers, however, seem to live for Westvleteren.

Read the entire article at the Wall Street Journal. Thanks to Bryce Hinsch for the link!

Last orders for Guinness?

Granted, Guinness isn't the beer it used to be. It's lighter and less flavorful than it was 15 or 20 years ago, back when it was my favorite beer. Then again, maybe that's why their business has been declining all this time. And if that's the case, Guinness Red ain't gonna help.

Guinness is one of Britain's best loved brands, yet sales of the famous black stout have been falling year after year both in the UK and Ireland.

But with nearly 250 years of history behind it, Guinness is not about to go quietly.

It has launched a fight back with a new lighter, sweeter version, Guinness Red, and a much hyped multi-million pound advertising campaign.

Will it be enough to reverse the decline?

Read the entire obituary at the BBC.

Man shoots goat after wife wouldn't bring him beer

That'll teach it.

WAUPACA — A rural New London man faces charges for killing one of his family's two pet goats after he became upset with his wife for not buying beer.

It goes on to say that the man "was arrested later that day at a local bar". Big surprise there. (How I do miss Wisconsin!)

Read the rest of this wacky story at the Oshkosh Northwestern


Celebrate Repeal Day!

Prohibition in the United States was ended by the ratification of the 21st Amendment to the Constitution on December 5, 1933.

Amendment XXI

Section 1. The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.

Section 2. The transportation or importation into any state, territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.

Section 3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by conventions in the several states, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the states by the Congress.

So raise a glass of your favorite libation today in honor of Repeal Day!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


From the BJCP Style Guidelines:

Overall Impression: A dark, strong, malty lager beer.

ABV: 6.3 - 7.2%

Now compare that to this keg label:

A 3.2% ABW "Bock"

You read that right: this so-called "Bock" contains "no more than 3.2% alcohol by weight". Granted, that's 4% by volume, but it's still less than ⅔ of the minimum spec.

I ran across another Amber Bock keg that was not so labelled, and I've learned that the standard-strength brew is 5.2% ABV; not quite as laughable, but still significantly light.

So much for truth-in-labelling.

(And while I'm at it, it's not really "amber", either.)

Final week of November

Back to the grind. (At least I'm allowed — hell, I'm required — to have a beer while I work.)

Monday: Cleaned the draft lines. Had an hour of physical therapy on my back. Filled some root beer kegs and deliver them to Lincoln and Council Bluffs, stopping along in Omaha to pick up some wine for the restaurant. (Plus a quick pint of Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale at the Crescent Moon.

View Larger Map

Tuesday: Brewed seven barrels of Tin Lizzie Hefeweizen. I did some repair work on my brother's computer this weekend, so I drove to Grand Island to drop it off at his house, stopping by the Chicken Coop for a couple of pints afterwards.

Today: PT this morning. Cleaned about five dozen kegs, one of which is pictured here. Filled a few five-gallon cans of root beer, and rolled one of them down the street to Crackers & Caviar.

Tomorrow: PT at 9:00. Brew seven barrels of Impromptu Pale Ale. I have a box of Simcoe hops that I've been itching to use in this beer. But I'm irrationally kind of hoping that it won't taste as good as it could, since there won't be any more Simcoe hops to be had until next fall.

Friday: (Note: virtually no beer content here.) Pick up Paris in Omaha. She's got three more weeks on this New Jersey project, then a couple of weeks off before she starts working in England or Germany or both. She told me today to "get the tanks full". Also, I'm planning to lace up my skates and play some hockey in the afternoon. I haven't skated in something like three years, and I'll need to tune up my game for my Shark For A Day adventure next March.

Saturday: Pour beer at Crescent Moon Holiday Beer Fest in Omaha. I'm taking five gallons of my Novemberfest beer.

Last week's journey

I've been away: a six-day trip to see Paris' family in Wyoming for the recent holiday. Before we left on Sunday the 18th, I...

  • brewed seven barrels of All-American Gold

  • received (finally!) three pallets of malt that I ordered in September

  • filled kegs

  • poured beer at the Downtown Stroll

  • did the early November excise tax report

  • and visited the new Nebraska Brewing Company in Papillion on their Opening Day.

Papillion's new brewpub is in a new shopping complex called Towne Center. The beers are tasty and the food smelled good and the place was pretty well packed for the three hours we were there. They're a bit out of the way if you're in downtown Omaha, but they're worth the trip.

There's supposed to be a picture of Nebraska Brewing here, but my camera ate it.

Our flight from Omaha to Billings left early Sunday morning, and we arrived around lunchtime. Lunch was served at the Montana Brewing Company right downtown. They've been open since 1994, but for some reason, we've never managed to stop there until now. We enjoyed their award-winning beers along with a couple of smoked salmon entrees.

There's supposed to be a picture of Montana Brewing here, but my camera ate it too.

Yellowstone Valley Brewing Company is just a few blocks away, but they don't open until 4:00pm. Ditto for Angry Hank's Micro Brewery, also on First Avenue North.

Yellowstone Valley Brewing

Yellowstone Valley Brewing

Angry Hank's Microbrewery

Angry Hank's Microbrewery

Angry Hank's three-pint limit

Angry Hank's three-pint limit

The week in Cody and Powell was uneventful, beerwise, although we did pick up a couple different Red Lodge Ales and some bottles of Alaskan Smoked Porter at a local liquor store.

We returned home via the same route — including lunch at Montana Brewing — on Friday the 23rd. I went into Gottberg on Saturday to fill a couple of keg orders, and I moved 14 barrels of root beer into the cellar.

Two Popular Craft Breweries Agree to Merge

Business Wire reports that Redhook and Widmer, both craft-brewing pioneers, are combining their businesses.

SEATTLE & PORTLAND, Ore.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Two of the country’s leading and pioneering craft breweries announced today that they have agreed to combine their businesses and become one company. Redhook Ale Brewery, Incorporated of Woodinville, Wash., and Widmer Brothers Brewing Company of Portland, Ore., will merge to create a combined company called Craft Brewers Alliance.

Kurt Widmer will serve as the company’s chairman of the board and Paul Shipman will serve as chairman emeritus. Dave Mickelson, Redhook’s current president and chief operating officer, and Terry Michaelson, president of Craft Brands Alliance, Redhook and Widmer’s sales and marketing joint venture, will serve as co-CEOs of the company. The combined company will continue to be publicly traded on NASDAQ under the symbol HOOK and will have management offices in both Portland and Woodinville.

The all stock transaction will result in Widmer shareholders and existing Redhook shareholders each holding approximately 50% of the outstanding shares in the combined company. Anheuser-Busch is expected to remain a strategic distribution partner for Widmer and Redhook products and will continue to hold a minority equity stake in the company following the merger.

Read the entire article at Business Wire, and another article at Forbes.

Man Suing After Allegedly Being Injured By Beer At Store

America: Land of the Professional Victim.

OCALA, Fla. -- A man has filed a lawsuit because he claims he was injured while trying to buy beer at an Ocala Albertson's store.

Olester Duncan said he was trying to take a pack of Schlitz from a shelf when a falling beer hit him on the head.

Olester claims the store and the beer companies should have made sure the display was safe.

Read the entire story (well, actually, that was the entire story) at There's also a story at First Coast News that has more details, including Duncan's wife's claims of "[having] in the past and will in the future suffer the loss of the value of her husband's services, society, companionship and consortium by reason of his injuries".

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Top 3 Worlds Most Expensive Beers

Courtesy of, the three Most Expensive Beers in the World are:

  1. Brasserie Caulier La Vielle Bon-Secours ($4.88 per ounce)

  2. Tutankhamen Brew ($3.08 per ounce)

  3. Boston Beer Company Samuel Adams Utopias ($4.17 per ounce)

Read the entire article at

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Gottberg Brew Pub Brewer's Schedule

As of this morning, there are 162 subscribers to this blog. I know for sure that at least 0.6173% of these subscribers (I'm looking at you, Tom) are interested in not only what I've done around here, but also what I'm planning to do around here. To that end, I've created a Google Calendar that contains my "to-do list" for the brewery. You can always access the calendar via the Google Calendar button on the right-hand side of the page.

A reminder: if you see something interesting on the schedule, and you'd like to see it in person, feel free to swing by the brewery. I'll always be glad to let you watchput you to work. Be sure to contact me first, because my schedule can be very dynamic.

Beers for Bro

Last Thursday night, I poured beer at the "Beers for Bro" fundraiser in Omaha. More than 100 very enthusiastic beer drinkers turned out for the occasion, as did fellow Nebraska breweries Upstream, Empyrean, and Spilker. They drank a sixth-barrel of my Novemberfest, and came damn close to killing of the sixters of Bugeater Brown and Tin Lizzie Hefeweizen too! The show officially ended at 9:00pm, but a few of us stayed until they kicked us out at 11:00.

The venue

The revellers

The hardcore

Russian draught beer dispenser goes international

This appears to be a device that allows beer bottles to be filled right in the store. I'm not sure how useful it would actually be, but it's kinda nifty.

A Russian company has made a device which it says allows retailers to sell draught beer easily from stores.

Pegas, made by Novosibirskprodmash, has been available in Russia for the past four years and is now being launched internationally.

The device can be installed into a beer column with or without a standard beer tap and can also be connected to a beer chiller or a beer line.

It is designed to be used with plastic bottles, which the company says are lighter, stronger and cheaper than glass.

Read the entire article at Drinks International.

Expert Nose

Live Science reports that "nearly everyone can train their brain for olfactory expertise" — great news for beer judges!

You can watch the video at

Beer after sport 'is good for the body'

This is something that hockey players have known for a long time: beer always makes you feel better after a game.

A beer after playing a game of football, a long run, or a strenuous round of golf can be good for the body, scientists say.

In a rare piece of good news for those who like a pint, Spanish researchers say beer can help someone who is dehydrated retain liquid better than water.

Prof Manuel Garzon, of Granada University, also claimed the bubbles in beer help to quench the thirst and that its carbohydrate content can help to replace lost calories.

Read the entire article at The Telegraph.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Miller to Expand Test of 64-Calorie Brew

"As light as it gets"...this is a good thing?!?

Chicago—Less than three months after introducing MGDL-64 in Madison, Wisconsin, Miller Brewing executives are strongly considering expanding the test throughout the Midwest as well as other territories, per a source.

The 64-calorie brew, also dubbed Miller Genuine Draft Light, debuted in August. Its tagline “As light as it gets” has appeared on retail displays as well as on out-of-home signage.

Read the entire article at BrandWeek. In the meantime, you want light? Drink bottled water.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

$600 for Breast Cancer Research

Back at the beginning of October, I announced our pledge to donate my monthly sales bonus to cancer research. Thanks to our loyal customers, that donation totalled $60217! I passed the money along to the Gateway for Cancer Research this evening.

Thanks to everyone who lent their support! We'll do it again next year.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Quiet in here

I see I haven't posted much since the middle of October. I could say that's because not much has been happening around here since the middle of October, and I wouldn't be lying much. I could also say that I've been pathologically lazy lately, and I wouldn't be lying at all.

So here's the quick-and-dirty on the activities at Gottberg lately:

  • Filtered the All-American Gold.

  • Brewed Tin Lizzie Hefeweizen.

  • Brewed Bugeater Brown.

  • Did the mid-October taxes. Cleaned and filled kegs. Kegged off the old batch of Brown.

  • More shots in the back. Physical therapy every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

  • Poured beer at the Oktoberfest in Leigh.

  • Cleaned the draft lines. Calculated new wholesale beer and soda prices.

  • Cleaned a bright tank and filtered Johnny the Jet's Red Beer into it. (It's not as red as I wanted it to be.) Tried to figure out how much hops we'll go through next year.

  • Cleaned a fermenter.

  • Cleaned and filled kegs.

  • Kegged off the Princess of Darkness Porter and the Moll Dubh Irish Ale, and cleaned both tanks.

  • Moved seven barrels of Root Beer downstairs. Filtered our Novemberfest beer. (I brewed it way too late and way too strong to be an Oktoberfest beer.) Spent the evening at the Pint Night at the Crescent Moon, featuring our Princess of Darkness Porter.

  • Cleaned a fermenter.

  • Filled kegs. Tapped the Novemberfest.

  • Did October's monthly tax reports. Filtered the Bugeater Brown. Transferred the Tin Lizzie Hefeweizen.

  • Cleaned the draft lines. Filled root beer kegs for Norfolk. Cleaned a couple dozen picnic taps. Sent letters to our customers outlining our price increases, to take effect January 1.

  • Delivered the kegs to Norfolk. Cleaned two fermenters.

Same shit, different month.

Here's what's coming up:

  1. Clean and fill kegs. Clean the tap faucets. Give a tour to 45 people.

  2. Deliver kegs to Lincoln. Pour beer at the Gesu Housing fundraiser in Omaha.

  3. Clean the draft lines.

  4. Brew some Gold, Pale Ale, and maybe something else.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Gottberg beer returns to Omaha

After a hiatus of three years or more, Gottberg beer has returned to Omaha! The fine folks at the Crescent Moon Ale House offered our Princess of Darkness Porter at their Pint Night tonight. We made up some special pint glasses, and Paris herself was actually able to attend.

Our incredibly artistic tap handle

Pint Night Rules

The special pints of Darkness

Darkness all the way down the bar

They went through a full half-barrel and part of another one tonight, and they expect to go through the remainder of their three kegs tomorrow — Halloween. With luck, we'll end up with a permanent tap at the Moon, along with fellow Nebraska brewers Empyrean and Spilker.

Monday, October 29, 2007

New Belgium tasting at Max & Joe's

Well, my notes from this one are a bit sketchy, but here's what I remember from the evening of October 18...

First of all, thanks to Bill Rauth for setting me up with a ticket! I was having a beer down in the Huber Haus when Bill said his buddy couldn't make it and asked me if I wanted the ticket. I owe him an equivalent amount of beer when he visits the pub in Columbus!

Polka jam at the Huber Haus!

Travis Flett(?), local New Belgium sales guy, introduced the evening's speakers. Eric Salazar has been brewing at New Belgium for 13 years, and his wife Lauren has been doing sensory QA work there for ten. They are both GABF and World Beer Cup judges, and they both really love their jobs!

Eric and Lauren and friends

After each of us tasters being presented with our very own New Belgium glass, we started off with Mothership Wit. The name "Mothership" refers to the Fort Collins brewery. This was their first organic beer, and they had a hard time finding their ingredients. Lauren says it pairs up well with shellfish, fish tacos, mussels, ceviche, and Mexican food.

Beer #2 was my favorite "everyday" New Belgium beer, 1554. This black Belgian-style beer is fermented with a lager yeast and hopped to 12 BU with Target hops. They don't use any aroma hops. It doesn't fit into any GABF styles; in fact, New Belgium brewmaster Peter Bouckaert (formerly of Rodenbach) says he's not a big fan of beer styles. Rather, he designs beers to answer the question "what are you thirsty for?" Lauren says that she hears a lot of women say that dark beers don't scare them. Pair this beer with cheese, dry-rub barbecue pork and chicken, and burgers.

2° Below, a 6.6% abv Winter Ale, is Travis' favorite. He describes it as "IPA without the bitterness". It has a fiercely spicy floral hop aroma.

After a few snacks of crackers and cheese, we were treated to a glass of the famous La Folie. The draft version is a blend of different years' brews. La Folie has its own dedicated set of pipes and vessels in the brewery. It's very tart...more so than the bottled version. It's a great dessert beer, with dark chocolate and nougat.

Rare New Belgium taps at Max & Joe's

A special treat tonight — well, one of many — was a taste of the special version of La Folie that was brewed for the Falling Rock Tap House in Denver. This one is even more tart and has a much better balance than the standard recipe.

The sixth beer was a unique experience: Eric's Ale, also known as "Lips of Faith". It's a wood-aged beer, brewed with peaches and ten-year-old hops, and blended with La Folie and a Belgian Golden ale. 17.5° Plato and 7% abv, for those keeping score. It has a huge peach aroma and a mild peach flavor; it's malty, with a peach finish. If you like Belgian-style fruit beers, this one's for you. Personally, I didn't think the peach worked too well with the Brettanomyces character.

Finally, Le Terroir, a dry-hopped sour Brown, and another member of the "Lips of Faith" series. It's fiercely sour. It's really dry. Its Amarillo hop aroma is intense. They made one barrel, filtered it, and carbonated it in the keg, and we're drinking the keg now. (The remnants were still on tap at the Crescent Moon as of last Friday the 26th.) It's definitely the most tart beer of the night...great stuff!

Thanks to Eric, Lauren, and Travis for putting on the show, and thanks to Bill and Jen for hosting this party at Max & Joe's!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Brewer in dispute with real Sam Adams

Hmmm...maybe the name "Sam Adams" is more common than they thought.

PORTLAND, Ore. - The Boston brewers of Sam Adams beer objected when they learned that a mayoral campaign here included Web sites invoking the name of their product.

What they didn't realize is that Sam Adams is also the name of the candidate — and has been since before the beer hit the market.

The Portland Sam Adams, a mild-mannered bicycle rider, is a far cry from the Boston Sam Adams, a patriot, brewer, rabble-rouser and business flop of Revolutionary War times. The second cousin to former president John Adams inherited the brewery, and it failed several years later.

Read the entire article at Yahoo! News.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Full Sail LTD 02

So I'm enjoying a bottle of Full Sail LTD 02 Limited Edition Lager this evening. The label is a bit vague as to the beer's intended style, so I looked it up on their site.

No onions, pickles, severed fingers, nor kryptonite. Hmm. It doesn't even whiten as it cleans. But it's a pretty tasty beer anyway.

10 Ways To Maximize Your Beer Value

This comes from the Personal Finance Advice site:

Life Is Far Too Short To Drink Cheap Beer - 10 Ways To Maximize Your Beer Value

First, stop thinking of beer as a commodity. It’s not toilet paper, or screws, or an all-you-can-eat buffet.

  1. Shun the sun

  2. Keep it cool

  3. Stay fresh

  4. Buy local

  5. Serve it properly: In a glass

  6. Serve it properly: Not ice cold

  7. Pour strong!

  8. Find your style

  9. Pair it up

  10. Invite your friends

For more details, see

Monday, October 15, 2007

Yet more festivities

Last Friday was the NCHS HomeGrown Fundraiser Event, a beer/wine/food fest to raise money for the Nebraska Children’s Home Society Foundation. It was a good time, although we only went through half of the beer we brought. It's clear that when there's wine, they don't drink beer. Ah well. Two different Omaha bar owners said they'd be interested in carrying my beer, so we'll see if they call.

A festival in the dark

Saturday, my customer in Council Bluffs called, saying he had forgot to order root beer, and he needed an "emergency delivery". I told him I'd fill some kegs and deliver them Sunday, since I had to take Paris to the airport anyway.

While we were in Council Bluffs, we stopped at the highly-touted Hy-Vee liquor department for the first time. We were not disappointed. Here's what I picked up:

I didn't even scratch the surface of their offerings. I'm planning to go back on Friday, beer list in hand, to do some serious shopping.

Coming up this week:

Monday: PT, and filter the All-American Gold.

Tuesday: Brew Tin Lizzie Hefeweizen.

Wednesday: PT, and brew Bugeater Brown Ale.

Thursday: PT, and clean and fill kegs, then head for Omaha and some beers at the Huber Haus.

Friday: More shots in the back, and pick up Paris at the airport.

GABF Results

This year's Great American Beer Festival has come and gone, and the medal winners are posted at the Brewers Association site.

And here are the 2007 Brewery and Brewer of the Year Awards:

Large Brewing Company and Large Brewing Company Brewer of the Year

Pabst Brewing Company, Woodridge, IL

Bob Newman

Mid-Size Brewing Company and Mid-Size Brewing Company Brewer of the Year

Sponsored by Crosby & Baker Ltd.

Firestone Walker Brewing Company, Paso Robles, CA

Matthew Brynildson

Small Brewing Company and Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year

Sponsored by Microstar Keg Management

Port Brewing & The Lost Abbey, San Marcos, CA

Tomme Arthur

Large Brewpub and Large Brewpub Brewer of the Year

Sponsored by Brewers Supply Group

Redrock Brewing Company, Salt Lake City, UT

Kevin Templin

Small Brewpub and Small Brewpub Brewer of the Year

Sponsored by Briess Malt & Ingredients Co.

Montana Brewing Company, Billings, MT

Travis Zeilstra

Bears and beer don't mix, it seems

Thanks to Ed Rush for forwarding this article:


BELGRADE, Serbia (Reuters) -- A 23-year old Serb was found dead and half-eaten in the bear cage of Belgrade Zoo at the weekend during the annual beer festival.

The man was found naked, with his clothes lying intact inside the cage. Two adult bears, Masha and Misha, had dragged the body to their feeding corner and reacted angrily when keepers tried to recover it.

"There's a good chance he was drunk or drugged. Only an idiot would jump into the bear cage," zoo director Vuk Bojovic told Reuters.

Local media reported that police found several mobile phones inside the cage, as well as bricks, stones and beer cans.

Pub completes 25,000km journey by boat

This is my kind of cruise ship.

EX-PAT New Zealanders mourning the World Cup loss have been able to drown their sorrows patriotically after a pub with 75 kegs of a local brew arrived in London on a container ship.

The pub was purpose-built in six weeks by Christchurch company 3 Bald Men inside two five-tonne containers and will stay moored at the wharf for two weeks before setting up in a central London site.

Read the whole article at

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The high cost of a late start

Cause and effect: The weather was real nice yesterday, so I opened the windows all over the house, so the cats went nuts because of the fresh air, so they kept me awake last night even more than they usually do, so I didn't even get out of bed until 9:45 this morning, so I didn't brew any Hefeweizen today.

I did do a little paperwork, including comparing the cost of our major ingredients from 2004 to the present. Malt prices are up 20-40%, hop prices have doubled (or more), root beer extract is up 21%, and even the stuff I clean the lines with is up 27%. And that doesn't include the increased freight costs due to the near-doubling of fuel prices. Meanwhile, we're still charging the same prices that we were in 1995.

And the worst is yet to come. includes a forum post outlining next year's dire hop situation, and this USA Today article is one of many describing the skyrocketing price of malt. Both malt and hops may double in price again before the end of 2008.

Anyway, I also dumped the dregs (spent yeast) from a couple of fermenters. Maybe I'll get that Hefeweizen brewed tomorrow.

Molson Coors, SABMiller to Combine U.S. Operations

The Wall Street Journal reports that the second- and third-largest brewers in the United States are planning to merge their U.S. operations by mid-2008.

SABMiller PLC and Molson Coors Brewing Co. said they plan to combine their U.S. operations, creating a juggernaut that could threaten the decades-long dominance of Anheuser-Busch Cos. in the American beer industry.

The joint venture, to be called MillerCoors, would have annual revenue of about $6.6 billion and yield about $500 million in annual cost savings. The combination would bring together Miller Brewing Co., the second-largest U.S. brewer by sales with about 20% market share and Coors Brewing co., the No. 3 player with about 11% market share. Anheuser-Busch controls nearly half the U.S. beer market.

Read the entire article at The Wall Street Journal.

The news is confirmed by a press release at the SABMiller site:

Pete Coors, Vice Chairman of Molson Coors, will serve as Chairman of MillerCoors. Graham Mackay, SABMiller CEO, will serve as Vice Chairman of MillerCoors. Leo Kiely, current CEO of Molson Coors, will be the CEO of the joint venture, and Tom Long, current CEO of Miller, will be appointed President and Chief Commercial Officer.

Commenting on the transaction, Graham Mackay, Chief Executive of SABMiller, said, "We are excited by the enhanced prospects for growth and the considerable benefits to all stakeholders that this joint venture offers. Given the highly complementary nature of our U.S. assets, operations and geographic footprint, this is a logical and compelling combination that we expect will create significant value for shareholders while benefiting distributors, consumers, retailers and the market overall. We look forward to working with Molson Coors to jointly develop the combined business.”

Pete Coors, Vice Chairman of Molson Coors, said, “This transaction is driven by the profound changes in the U.S. alcohol beverage industry that are confronting both of our companies with new challenges. Consumers are broadening their tastes and are increasingly looking for greater choice and differentiation; wine and spirits companies are encroaching on traditional beer occasions, and global beer importers and craft brewers are both taking a larger share of volume and profit growth. Creating a stronger U.S. brewer will help us meet these challenges, compete more effectively and provide U.S. consumers with more choice, greater product availability and increased innovation. The Molson and Coors families are firmly in support of this strategic transaction.”

Leo Kiely, Chief Executive of Molson Coors, said, “As a result of this combination, Miller and Coors will be able to provide more focused support for our flagship brands, while taking full advantage of consumers’ demand for imported and craft brands and innovative products. Both companies have a lot of momentum in their businesses today, and I am confident that this will accelerate as we adopt the best practices of both organizations. I am delighted to have the opportunity to be part of such a dynamic team that will mesh truly great brewing traditions, management teams, employees and cultures, while retaining both companies’ commitment to social responsibility and the communities in which we operate.”

Tom Long, Chief Executive and President of Miller, said, “Many important stakeholders will see clear benefits from the new company. Distributors will benefit from a robust brand portfolio, strengthened marketing investments, reduced complexity and costs, and enhanced relationships and coverage with large chain retailers. Retail customers will have an even stronger partner to drive consumer demand through product and packaging innovation, space optimization and enhanced retail execution. Our employees will have the opportunity to work for a stronger and more competitive player in the U.S. beer industry. And the communities where we do business will see a faster growing enterprise providing important economic benefits.”

Read the entire press release, which includes brand, strategic, and financial information, at the SABMiller site.

Monday, October 8, 2007

More festivities

Last Thursday morning, I picked up Paris at the Omaha airport. We stopped by Crescent Moon for a quick beer, then headed to Lincoln for lunch at Yia Yia's. That evening was the 14th Annual Okto Beerfest. It was hot as hell in the building, but the 800+ people who showed up sure had a good time. We went through a sixth-barrel each of Tin Lizzie Hefeweizen, Bugeater Brown Ale, and Princess of Darkness Porter. Just like last week, we ran out of beer an hour before the end of the show, despite bringing three times as much beer.

A shitty camera-phone picture of the brewers' table

Friday, I went to physical therapy in the morning and planned to take the rest of the day off, but I got a call saying that the glycol machine was all iced up. So I went over to the brewery, climbed up on the roof, and added 7½ gallons of fresh glycol to the reservoir. The temperature kept going up, so I just shut the damn thing off for the weekend, figuring it would thaw.

Today, more physical therapy after cleaning the draft lines. It seems to be working; I don't feel like there's a knife stuck in my back, at least not as often. I spent part of the morning back on the roof with the chiller. It seems to be working now, although the outside of the evaporator is still frosting up a bit. I'll climb back up there tomorrow to take a look.

Tomorrow: I should probably brew a batch of Hefeweizen.

Friday: Yet another fest, this one in Omaha again.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

(The following is a facsimile of the posters that we've plastered all over the pub and restaurant.)

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

We at Dusters Restaurant and Gottberg Brew Pub want to help breast cancer researchers find a cure for this killer of women by making a donation to the Gateway for Cancer Research. This organization is underwritten by the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, which my mother, Judy Beckstrom, credited with sustaining her during her 15-year battle against the disease. Judy died on October 9, 2002, less than a week before her 58th birthday; the donation will be made in her memory.

The Nine-Percent Solution

The total amount of the donation is up to you: I pledge to donate my entire October bonus, which is 9% of the sales of our craft-brewed beers and sodas. The more of our products you enjoy, the bigger our contribution will be.

Drink our beer. Drink our pop. Find a cure.

Richard Stueven, Brewer

BJCP CEP Vocabulary Guide

Here's an excellent resource from the Beer Judge Certification Program's Continuing Education Program. It's an online dictionary containing (as of today) 249 brewing and beer-tasting terms, from acetaldehyde to yellow. Definitions, etymologies, and pronunciations are included, as well as information on the term's relevance to the brewing process and beer styles.

Eventually, I'd like to figure out how to link words on my site to their definitions, but until then, bookmark and use the BJCP CEP Vocabulary Guide.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

A comical blog

The newspaper comic Adam@Home ran a strip that kinda reminded me of my work here: clean lines, clean kegs, drive to Norfolk, etc etc etc...

Click for the original image

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

GABF Podcast

Heading for the Great American Beer Festival next week? The Brewing Network is planning some pre-Fest podcasts, the GABF 2007 Preview (available now), and the GABF Virtual Tour ("coming in October"). During the Festival, they'll carry a Walking Tour Podcast, and they're planning to carry the Awards Ceremony live. I won't be there, but I'll be listening in!


Last Thursday was the First Annual Micro Brew Ha Ha, sponsored by Habitat for Humanity of Omaha. It was held outdoors, on the patio of Rick's Café Boatyard, overlooking the river, on a magnificent evening. They were expecting 500 people to turn up, but I'm sure there were more than that. I actually ran out of beer an hour before closing time!

Besides Gottberg, the eastern Nebraska breweries were well-represented by Empyrean, Granite City, Spilker, Upstream, and Jobber's Canyon. A couple of wholesalers were there pouring Boulevard, Left Hand and Big Sky beers as well.


...and during the fest.

Remnants of the Aksarben crew.

Behold my remarkably elegant table decorating skills!

I spent the night in a hotel in Council Bluffs, then picked up Paris at the airport in the morning. We had lunch at an unremarkable Thai restaurant, then headed over to Crescent Moon to get warmed up for their Oktoberfest, which started at 4:00. If you weren't there, you missed a fantastic party! Great German beers, great German food, great German music, and lots of fun people.

This week...

Monday: Clean the lines, go to physical therapy, do the monthly taxes, move seven barrels of root beer into the cellar, and make 14 more barrels of root beer.

Tuesday: make 14 more barrels of root beer.

Wednesday: Physical therapy, clean and fill kegs, move seven barrels of root beer into the cellar.

Thursday: Pick up Paris at the Omaha airport, then head to Lincoln for the 14th Annual Okto Beer Fest.

Friday: More physical therapy...the rest of the day is pretty much open.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Harvesting yeast

The current batch of Tin Lizzie Hefeweizen went to the cellar today. Adam Daake of Platte Valley Brewing called yesterday and asked if I had any Hefeweizen yeast he could borrow, so I saved a five-gallon can for him along with the quarter-barrel I kept for myself.

A few root beer orders had come in, so I filled those.

I had to come home early because Refrigerator Repair Man was scheduled to show up between 1:00 and 5:00. Adam stopped by my house to pick up his yeast, and we split a bottle of Yuksom Yeti Special Export Lager. (Refrigerator Repair Man arrived at 4:45.)

Tomorrow: the Micro Brew Ha Ha event in Omaha.

Friday (and maybe Saturday): the 6th Annual Oktoberfest at the Crescent Moon and Huber Haus in Omaha.

Johnny the Jet's Red Beer

Tom and I brewed a special batch yesterday: Johnny the Jet's Red Beer. See, I got a phone call a few weeks ago from someone in Omaha who's opening a new sports bar. She said she and her partners were interested in having a beer brewed exclusively for them, that they could put their own name on. I told them that I could do that, and that we should meet at the Crescent Moon to try some beers and come up with some recipe ideas. She told me she wasn't a big beer-drinker, but maybe she could get "Johnny" to come along.

Johnny did indeed come along. He's Johnny "the Jet" Rodgers, the running back of 1970's Nebraska Cornhuskers fame, and he enjoys a good beer.

My idea of brewing a Vienna Lager evolved into making a red beer. We tasted Negra Modelo, Leinenkugel's Red Lager, and Anchor Steam. They liked the flavor of the Negra, the color of the Leinie's, and the body of the Steam.

I didn't realize they had picked up the lunch tab for Paris and me until they were gone and I went to pay my own.

So anyway, Tom and I brewed it yesterday. It's plenty red. It's unfortunately also plenty underpitched - not as much yeast as it should have - so we might just brew another batch next week with some fresh yeast harvested from my Okvemberfest Bockbier.

Oh, and I cleaned three dozen kegs in the afternoon.

Thursday: the Micro Brew Ha Ha event in Omaha.

Friday (and maybe Saturday): the 6th Annual Oktoberfest at the Crescent Moon and Huber Haus in Omaha.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

These girls are for real

Real women drinking real beer. That's what I like to see. The world needs more of this and fewer "girly beers".

No, your beer goggles are not deceiving you. These really are women supping that traditionally blokey tipple - real ale - at the bar of one of the country’s top real-ale pubs, the White Hart in Shifnal.

And there’s not a flat cap in sight. Apart from the one on the head of the elderly gentleman in the corner, looking on somewhat bemused.

“Mmm. . . it’s nice,” says Emma Hesbrook, 26, from Newport, as she samples a pint of her Hereford Pale Ale.

“To me it’s very similar to lager but more creamy. It’s quite light and sweet - I would definitely have this one again.”

Normally when out on the tiles, Emma’s friend, 19-year-old Kerry Hughes - who also works at Eclipse Hair Studio in Shifnal - would select an alcopop or maybe a vodka. Today she is treating herself to a jar of Exmoor Gold.

Read the entire article at The Shropshire Star.

Distilling the Muslim World's First 20-Year-Old Whisky

If this doesn't rate a "WTF?", I don't know what does.

An almost 150-year-old brewery in Pakistan is preparing to bring the Muslim world's first 20-year-old single malt whisky to the market. Murree Brewery, however, can only sell to non-Muslims, who comprise 3 percent of Pakistan's population.

Read the entire article at Der Spiegel.

Love affair with beer tinged with bronze

Three thousand years ago, there were more breweries in Ireland than there are in all of Europe today!

Bronze Age man was a bit of a boozer, according to a team of archaeologists who that says it has uncovered evidence of the world's biggest prehistoric brewing industry.

Studies of residues found at prehistoric sites in Asia have dated beer back to 5000 BC. But the Moore Group claims the proliferation of fulacht fiadhs in Ireland suggests ancient brewing on an unprecedented scale.

"It means that there were up to 4500 breweries in Ireland in the Bronze Age, which means it was the most widespread brewing industry in prehistory in the world," Mr Moore said.

The researchers even attempted to recreate the ancient brew. Read the entire article at the Sydney Morning Herald.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Keg cleaning, and a tour

The whopping huge pile of five-gallon kegs got cleaned today.

Another busload of old-timers came through today. They were a lot more with-it than yesterday's bunch, and splitting the group over two tours made it go a lot more smoothly. Plus I wasn't brewing today.

I didn't manage to get the lines cleaned this week; I'll do it for sure on Monday. In the meantime, I doubt my lines will get as bad as this Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article describes.

Tomorrow: fill kegs, and host another tour group.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Hefeweizen, and a tour

Today's Tin Lizzie Hefeweizen brew went pretty well, with Tom's help. The cold liquor pump kept crapping out during knockout, possibly due to ice in the tank, but we got it done in the end.

The brew was interrupted by what was probably my Worst Tour Ever. More than 30 senior citizens came to Dusters for lunch, and they asked for a tour afterwards. "Afterwards" happened to be right in the middle of the boil, which wouldn't have been a bad thing in itself, except a third of these people weren't entirely sure where they were, and it was like herding cats trying to get them all upstairs. Plus there's really only room for fifteen people on the tour. Fortunately Tom was there to keep on top of the brew while I was juggling the oldies.

There are tour groups scheduled for tomorrow and Thursday, too, but I don't know if they're from the same source.

Tomorrow: clean the draft lines, clean kegs, transfer some root beer, acid-wash the kettle and mash tun.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Catching up...

...the blog, that is.

I won't bore you with the details of the past twelve days; it's the same old clean-fill-deliver routine. I did filter and tap the Moll Dubh Irish Ale last week after the 1916 Irish Stout ran out.

Paris brewed her famous Princess of Darkness Porter, with Tom's help.

The Princess stirs her mash...

The Princess stirs her mash... does Minion Tom. does Minion Tom.

Uncle Ivan's Dunkelweizen ran out last week, so the Princess will take over that tap early next week.

Our wholesaler in Grand Island returned a keg of Tin Lizzie Hefeweizen that had developed a leak. It's leaking in a most peculiar place, and I'm not sure whether it can be repaired.

Leaky keg

Leaky keg

I've filled a new keg for them, and I'll deliver it this afternoon. (Maybe I'll stop by the Chicken Coop for some Thunderhead beers on the way home.)

In the meantime, I'm cleaning 32,768 half-barrels. I'll clean the remaining 46,080 five-gallon kegs on Wednesday.

Tomorrow: brew seven barrels of Tin Lizzie Hefeweizen, and give a tour. There are also tour groups coming through on Wednesday and Thursday.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Michael Jackson dies

Beer has lost one of its heroes. Reports say that Beer Hunter Michael Jackson died at his London home this morning. Eulogies are already posted at All About Beer Magazine, Seen Through A Glass, and the Brewers Association.

Paris and I had a few opportunities to share beer with Mr. Jackson over the years. I'll post pictures and memories as soon as I find them.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Mid-Week Tedium

Cleaned the draft lines. (Yawn.)

Cleaned kegs. (Yawn.)

Moved seven barrels of root beer into the cellar. (Yawn.)

Filled kegs. The tedium was broken when I opened a valve before I had connected the filler to the tank. My entire right side was awash in Rye Lager, and my shoes are full of beer.

Paris is coming home tomorrow, then Friday we're heading to Wisconsin because WE FINALLY SOLD THAT STINKIN' HOUSE IN DEER PARK! We'll have a celebratory dinner (beer) at Gasthaus Bavarian Hunter, an extraordinary German restaurant near Stillwater MN.

Next week: brew Tin Lizzie Hefeweizen, brew Princess of Darkness Porter, filter Moll Dubh Irish Ale.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

More than just an Oktoberfest beer

Today's brew was the annual Steinworthy Oktoberfest. I probably should have brewed it a month ago to give it more lagering time, but there you go.

The brew went well. In fact, it went a bit too well. The target Original Extract was 14.7°P; the actual Original Extract was 18.2°P, which fits nicely into the Bock range. That sound you hear is me not complaining.

Tomorrow: clean the draft lines, clean and fill kegs, transfer some root beer.

Monday, August 27, 2007

More Gold

Tom had planned to help me brew today and tomorrow, but he got a better offer from his wife, so I'm on my own. (It's a rare man that will choose Wife over Beer; it's a rare woman that will make a man want to so choose.)

Seven barrels of All American Gold went into fermenter #7 today.

Tomorrow: brew this year's Oktoberfest beer.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

More kegs

Filled a few kegs for the pub this morning.

After I emptied bright tank #4 last week, I noticed that the pressure/vacuum relief valve (PVRV) was sticking open, so I took it apart today and cleaned it out.

The guts of a PVRV

Tomorrow: the weekly trip to Omaha.

Monday: Brew All-American Gold.

Tuesday: Brew Steinworthy Oktoberfest.

Wednesday: Brew ...something else.

Thursday: Clean and fill kegs.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Got yeast?

My new yeasts arrived today! Seven liters of 2112 California Lager Yeast, and seven liters of 3068 Weihenstephan Weizen Yeast. I should be able to get three new beers in the tanks next week.

I cleaned F10, the fermenter that held the Weizenbock.

While I was in the fermenter room, I noticed that the temperatures of the root beer holding tanks were about 30°F too warm. This happened a lot last year, too: when the weather gets Really Hot, the glycol machine craps out. I went up on the roof and restarted it.

My summertime bane

Somebody ordered a keg of root beer that they Just Had To Have this afternoon, so I filled one up for them.

Tomorrow: Fill kegs.

Missing Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. executive found dead in river

Thanks to regular correspondent Choo for bringing this to my attention.

Authorities retrieved the body of a missing Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. executive from the Sacramento River near Chico on Thursday, nine days after he was reported missing.

Steve Harrison, 54, had likely been dead since Aug. 6, when he failed to show up to work and colleagues became worried, said Lt. Dennis Cooley of the Butte County Sheriff's Department. Authorities said they do not think Harrison's death was suspicious but will have to wait until an autopsy is complete to determine whether it was suicide or an accident, he said.

Read the entire article at

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


I could have probably found something to do today, but I didn't. Somebody did order a keg of root beer, and I filled it, but that's about all I got done.

Tomorrow: clean a fermenter.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Root Beer Monday

My back is feeling better now than it has in years, thanks to Friday's injections. The real test will be how it feels after today's workout.

But first, I'll clean the draft lines.

I went out to Duncan to get a pallet of sugar and had a hell of a time wrestling it through the warehouse. Once I got it to the brewery, I made 28 barrels (868 gallons, 3300 liters) of root beer. That's 1,000 pounds (450 kg) of sugar, ten 100-pound bags, carried up six steps, lifted chest-high, and dumped into the kettle.

My back doesn't feel as good now as it did this morning.

One final project today, that I've been putting off for a long time: dumping the Weizenbock that I brewed back in January, before the Great Cleaning of 2007. This beer got infected early on. I tasted it every month or so, and while it did eventually turn into a reasonable facsimile of a Flemish Red Ale, there's no way I could sell seven barrels of it in this town. So down the drain it went, chased with ten barrels of 190°F water.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Wis. Lawmakers Back Beer Industry

A couple of years ago, I moved back to my home state of Nebraska after spending seven years in Wisconsin. It's nice enough here, but there are a few things I miss about my former home. One is the deep understanding that the people, the communities, and the government have about beer and brewing. There, a minor can drink in a bar if accompanied by a parent. In Wisconsin, small breweries pay an excise tax of $1.00 per barrel on beer that is sold; here in Nebraska, we pay 30.69¢ per gallon on all production, including tank bottoms that end up going down the drain. Wisconsin's attitude towards drunk driving is unfortunately rather lax, but otherwise, it's a great place to run a brewery. Other states could certainly learn something from their model. Wisconsin understands.

"I guess everybody knows Wisconsin loves beer and beer helped build this state and make it what is," [Great Taste of the Midwest festival chairman Bill Rogers] said. "I think some of the legislators get it."

Apparently, Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle gets it.

He signed into law a bill that ensured there would be no confusion about last call when taverns adjusted their clocks for daylight savings time in March. The Legislature made it clear that bartenders could keep serving after closing time sprang forward.

Doyle also signed a bill, behind unanimous support of the Legislature, allowing such retailers as grocery stores and liquor stores to promote a particular beer brand or special with free samples.

The legislative session hasn't gone completely in the brewers' favor, however.

Small brewery owners mounted a protest at a July hearing on a proposal to set new limits on how much beer they could produce. They handed lawmakers empty beer bottles stuffed with notes decrying the proposal.

The day before the hearing, angry brewers put a new spin on the Boston Tea Party and dumped beer into the Milwaukee River.

The bill's author subsequently tabled the proposal.

Read the entire article at Newschannel 7.

Friday, August 17, 2007

More needles

The alarm went off early this morning: I had an 8:00am appointment with the spine doctor in Omaha, a followup to last Thursday's shot in the neck. It had done a little bit of good, but not really very much, so we talked about other options. He thought maybe some trigger point injections might cause the fierce back spasms to release, and I gave him the OK. He found the big knot in the middle of my back (which he described as "so tight, it's like plucking a banjo string") and injected it with an anesthetic and a steroid. He seems pretty confident this will help. I really hope so — that knot has been there for 17 years — and I'm glad that Paris has good insurance, because this is probably getting pretty expensive.

Next stop, as usual on a Friday, was the Omaha airport to pick up Paris, and then the Crescent Moon.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Taxes, kegs

The title says it all: I did the mid-month excise tax report and filled kegs.

Antimatter: Drinkable and Goes Down Easy!

Beeeeeeeeeer Frommmmmmmmmm Spaaaaaaaaaace!

MEI was founded in 2006 and is now cranking out drinkable products produced from ingredients that have flown in space courtesy of suborbital rockets.

[One] MEI beverage offering is Comet’s Tail Amber Ale using yeast that flew into space. It was premiered earlier this month at a popular Albuquerque brewery.

Read the entire article at

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Cleaning catch-up

The thing about filtering beer here is that by the time I rinse the filter and get the caustic circulating, there's not enough hot water to clean the newly-emptied fermenter. So I hose it out as best I can and save the cleaning for the following day...which is today.

This hot, humid, typical-Nebraska-summer weather makes the tanks sweat, and the condensation runs onto the stainless steel floor, making a perfect home for mildew. So I mopped the floor with caustic (can't use bleach on stainless) and scrubbed the worst spots by hand. My back is not happy.

The latest batch of Tin Lizzie Hefeweizen is tasting a bit off, as is yesterday's All American Gold, so I've retired those two yeasts after six and nine generations respectively, and ordered seven liters of fresh yeast from Wyeast. It's scheduled to arrive next Wednesday, and I can get started on my fall and winter beers.