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.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Band Saved From Fire By PBR Cans

Is there nothing this miracle beverage can't do?

Long story short, we were driving from an amazing show in Regina to Calgary. We started to smell brakes burning and assumed it was the semi truck in front of us. As we were coming down the hill going about 70+ mph our driver mentioned that he felt we were losing power and not more than 30 seconds after that our van slammed to the pavement and we started to fish-tale with a full trailer. Everybody was scared to death just from the slamming down. We thought our tire blew. That's when we looked out the window, still skidding 150 yards towards a revine/stream and light pole, and we saw OUR tire on FIRE rolling past us. We finally came to a stop and our breakwell completely burst into flames and the majority of the dudes took off. Our tour manager and I grabbed the cooler which contained melted ice, 5 Pabst Blue Ribbons and a bottle of water.

Read the entire story at Shoutmouth.

Beer in space: A short but frothy history

Beer has been a part of human history since the beginning, so it's no surprise that it will be coming with us across the final frontier.

Graduate student Kirsten Sterrett at the University of Colorado in the US wrote a thesis on fermentation in space, with support from US beer behemoth Coors. She sent a miniature brewing kit into orbit aboard a space shuttle several years ago and produced a few sips of beer. She later sampled the space brew, but because of chemicals in and near it from her analysis, it didn't taste great by the time she tried it.

Beyond the challenge of producing beer in space is the problem of serving it, says Jonathan Clark, a former flight surgeon and now the space medicine liaison for the National Space Biomedical Research Institute in Houston, Texas, US.

Without gravity, bubbles don't rise, so "obviously the foam isn't going to come to a head", Clark told New Scientist.

The answer, Dutch researchers suggested in 2000, is to store beer in a flexible membrane inside a barrel. Air can be pumped between the barrel and the membrane, forcing the beer out of a tap. Astronauts could then use straws to suck up blobs of beer.

Read the entire article at

Debate on lower drinking age bubbling up

Finally, a rational article about this country's drinking-age lunacy.

“Raising the drinking age to 21 was passed with the very best of intentions, but it’s had the very worst of outcomes,” said David J. Hanson, an alcohol policy expert at the State University of New York-Potsdam. “Just like during national Prohibition, the law has pushed and forced underage drinking and youthful drinking underground, where we have no control over it.”

Read the entire article at

Lines, filters, and tours

Cleaned the draft lines this morning, followed by the filtration of the All American Gold. I got 6.1 barrels into the bright tank. Tom stopped by and reminded me that we significantly overshot our target gravity on that batch, and asked if I planned to dilute it like I was considering. After taking some measurements, I decided that might be a good idea. I ran just under two barrels of cold RO water into the filtered beer, bringing the volume up to eight barrels and the effective gravity down to 8.2°P, right about on target.

A huge group of farm-tourists came to the restaurant for lunch and decided they'd like a brewery tour. I showed them what I could, even though there were hoses and water all over the floor. Then, just as I started dumping the Dreck out of the now-empty fermenter, another group, this time a bunch of kids from the Interfaith Council in Lincoln, showed up and also asked for a tour. I told them to have their lunch first, so I could hose all the yeast off the floor.

Tomorrow: get some sugar and make some root beer, finish cleaning the fermenter, and order yeast.

Monday, August 13, 2007

August, Part 2

  • Wednesday, August 8: Chase stirs the mashTom Froehner and Chase Becker came in and brewed seven barrels of Moll Dubh Irish Red Ale. It was a popular beer when we had it on tap last year, although it looks like I didn't take any notes. This year's batch looks a little dark, so it might end up as Moll Dubh Irish Brown Ale instead. It will go on tap as soon as the current batch of Uncle Ivan's Dunkelweizen (just over one keg) runs out.

  • Thursday, August 9: Filled a few kegs this morning, then headed to Omaha for another shot in the neck. This one was done without a sedative, so they let me drive myself away, and I headed straight for the Crescent Moon. Lunch and a few beers there — OK, I stayed until 7:30pm — then downstairs to the Huber Haus beer hall for a Doppelbock. Or two. And maybe a Pils. Or two. Talked to lots of fun people and gave away a bunch of business cards, so maybe my beer will be on tap in Omaha sometime, I hope. Headed back to the hotel and had a couple of bottles of Empyrean Luna Sea ESB.

  • Friday, August 10: Todd Parkman and me at the Crescent MoonPicked up Paris at the Omaha airport and headed as usual to Crescent Moon for lunch. Not long after lunch, a couple showed up at the bar "looking for the strong stuff". Turns out they were in town for a wedding, and they had scoped out the Moon as a place they could find beer that they couldn't find back home in Mississippi, a state with a 6% abv limit. Katie and Todd Parkman are a) passionately committed to getting Mississippi's beer laws modernized, and b) a whole hell of a lot of fun to drink beer with. Buy them a pint when you run into them!

  • Monday, August 13: I need to free up tank space for the batch of All American Gold that Tom brewed a while back, so I kegged off the Maibock (four kegs) and Schwarzbier (five kegs), and cleaned, sanitized, and pressurized those bright beer tanks. I cleaned a couple dozen kegs, along with a couple dozen picnic taps. I also moved fourteen barrels of root beer into the cellar, as two of the three soda tanks were empty. Last Thursday's nerve-blocking injection doesn't seem to have done much good, so I'll be back at the doc's office early Friday morning to talk about further options.

Tomorrow: Clean the draft lines and filter the new batch of Gold.

Later this week: get sugar and make root beer, do the mid-month taxes, fill kegs.

Sometime Real Soon: brew another batch of Gold, some Oktoberfest, and some Scotch Ale.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

New site is live!

The new version of went live Saturday morning! I've been tracking down and fixing the links I broke, along with a bunch that were broken in the old version. Give it a try, and if you find any problems, please let me know either by leaving a comment here, posting on the Beer Me! Forum, or using the comments form on the site.

I've got user-submitted brewery updates stacked up back to July 27, so the next big task is to get caught up with those.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

"Beer Me!", version 3.0

Very soon this week — maybe even later today — the new version of will go live. Cosmetically, it's not a whole lot different, but it's damn near revolutionary in the way it works, and it will be much easier for me to maintain.

Some history:

  • Version 0 was the list of breweries that I put online back in 1990 or so. It was a simple text file that ftp (and later, Lynx and Mosaic) users could view to find breweries in northern California.

  • Version 1 came out around 1994 and contained my beer tasting notes. I also started listing lots more breweries with help from correspondents from around the world. I still typed in each individual file's HTML by hand.

  • Version 2 in 1996 represented a major technological leap for the site. I loaded all the data into Microsoft Access and wrote Visual Basic routines to generate the HTML pages, which I would then ftp up to the server. Around this same time, Pat and Mark from Real Beer contacted me about hosting my site. "Beer Me!" has been a part of Real Beer ever since. The site underwent a few cosmetic changes over the years, which I'll arbitrarily call 2.0.1 (1997), 2.0.2 (2000), 2.0.3 (2002, when the name changed to, 2.1.0 (2003), 2.1.1 (2004), and 2.1.2 (2006)

  • Version 3 will look superficially a lot like 2.1.2, but behind the scenes, the HTML will be generated by PHP and a MySQL database residing on Real Beer's server. No more uploading files and trying to keep everything in sync; the data on the pages will change as soon as I enter the updates in the database. No more worrying about losing my laptop nor wrecking the hard drive where all the data has been kept.

The new code is just about ready to go; I've got a fairly short list of tweaks that I'll be working on. You can give it a test drive at Please let me know, either on this page or at the "Beer Me!" Forum, about any problems you find or suggestions you have!

- beerlist.php: list possible "orderBy" values in a switch

- nearby.php: pretty up the Google Maps

- nearby.php: should sort by distance, not name

- brewery.php: if a beer has a LiquidSolutions number, add it to the
"Place" link

- liquidSolutions.php: is kinda ugly

- Unicode characters aren't sorted properly (e.g. brewery.php?3379 beer

- ...and sometimes aren't displayed right. (Å in brewerylist.php)

- map.php: print a message like "starting Google Earth"

- map.php: Unicode characters are not displayed right.

- brewerylist.php: isn't really "huge" after all

- senderror.php: "Region" is given as a number instead of text

- bestBrewery.php: MySQL 3.23 doesn't support subqueries, so the main
SELECT statement needs major work

- get rid of all the die() statements; replace with custom error handling

- brewery.php: beermats aren't being displayed (e.g. 3401)

- make an email form to hide the brewery addresses

- region.php: don't show administrativearea.comments if there's no
administrativearea (see 162)

End July, Start August

I haven't been slacking — not much, anyway — but I haven't had much time to post here lately. I've been working on a new version of "Beer Me!" that should go live in the next day or two; watch this space for news.

So here's what's been happening, brewery-wise:

  • Tuesday, July 24: Cleaned the draft lines. Cleaned the two fermenters.

  • Wednesday, July 25: Filled twelve half-barrels and 20 five-gallon kegs of root beer and three 1/6-barrels of Bugeater Brown Ale for a wholesaler, plus the usual kegs of beer for the pub.

  • Thursday, July 26: Drove the kegs up to Norfolk.

  • Friday, July 27: Picked up Paris at the Omaha airport, and had lunch at Crescent Moon. Picked up a few bottles at Beertopia, too.

  • Saturday, July 28: The Nebraska State Fair 1868 Foundation held their Blue Ribbon Roll Out in Lincoln, featuring food from several area restaurants and beer from Empyrean, Gottberg, Spilker, and Upstream. We poured a few growlers of "Rye I Oughta...!" and Bugeater Brown Ale.

  • Monday, July 30: Cleaned the draft lines. Cleaned about four dozen kegs.

  • Tuesday, July 31: Filled ten root beer kegs for customers in Lincoln and Omaha. Gave a tour to some ladies from the Butler County Senior Center who had come to Dusters for lunch.Tuesday's tour group

  • Wednesday, August 1: Drove the kegs to Lincoln and Omaha. Despite being officially on vacation, Paris had to attend a web-conference this afternoon. Since the Crescent Moon offers wireless internet service, it seemed like the perfect place to stop on the way home.

  • Thursday, August 2: Did the monthly tax reports. Filled kegs for the pub and for the Grand Island distributor.

  • Monday, August 6: Cleaned the draft lines. Went to Omaha for a followup appointment with the doctor that shot cortisone into my neck last week. That treatment didn't help at all, but he did tell me at the outset that it was more for diagnostic than therapeutic purposes. So sometime soon — possibly as soon as this Thursday — he'll do it again one joint above the last one. If that doesn't work, he talked about some sort of nerve function test that I haven't researched yet. I spent the entire afternoon at Crescent Moon working on and waiting for the day's thunderstorms to pass.

  • Tuesday, August 7: Caught up some paperwork. Typed this article.

Tomorrow: brew an as-yet-undetermined beer that will replace the soon-to-run-out Uncle Ivan's Dunkelweizen. Chase Becker said he'd come help.

German Beer Lovers Rescued

This is why I love Germany.

BERLIN (AP) - Germany's national railway wasn't about to risk sending a trainload of soccer fans to a German Cup match without beer.

Federal police said Monday that the beer tap failed aboard a special train carrying Bayer Leverkusen fans to Hamburg on Saturday. The fault was discovered half an hour into the journey.

"In order not to endanger the good mood" of the passengers, railway officials halted the train in Wuppertal for 25 minutes and had a replacement part delivered by taxi, a police statement said. It added that there was no trouble among the fans.

Their team was less obliging. Top-division Leverkusen's 1-0 elimination from the cup by second-division St. Pauli in a first-round upset left its fans with plenty of sorrows to drown on the way home.

Read the entire article at Guardian Unlimited.