Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Some asshole (definition #7) hacked a header injection into the "fixerror.php" script today and used it to send tens of thousands of spam messages. I have had to disable that page for now. Once the flood of messages stops, I will enable the page again, with the security hole fixed. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Queen of Clubs Schwarzbier

Upon leaving the chiropractor's office, I came to the brewery and put together seven barrels of Queen of Clubs Schwarzbier, which I haven't brewed since I was at Egan's in 2000. (The name refers to the only card game I know how to play.) I had to adjust the recipe a bit to account for some malt I didn't have, and I botched the math, and near the end of the boil I realized I was going to be about 2° Plato light. But the boil was more effective as usual for some reason, and the OE ended up at 10.8° Plato, which isn't terribly out of line.

And I got all of the kegs out of the van from this Saturday's festivities.

Tomorrow: clean the draft lines, pick up some sugar, order some malt and hops, and visit an allergist.

Random Beer Name Generator

StrangeBrew, home of brewing software and a recipe database, presents its Random Beer Name Generator. It solves the biggest problem facing brewers, namely: "what do I call this concoction?"

32 Things You Can Do with Beer

Personally, I think if you're not drinking it, you're wasting it, but Joe Kita of Men's Health lists 32 things you can do with beer.

The experience started me thinking about other possible uses for my favorite beverage. What if beer were like WD-40 — an indispensable product with hundreds of household uses? The next time your bride complains about all the room it's taking up in the fridge, you could argue that it's not just beer, it's lawn fertilizer, a necessary kitchen-safety tool, and an integral part of a chess set.

And, of course, research shows that, in moderation, drinking beer has significant health benefits. It's time, gentlemen, to make beer an even bigger part of our world. Here are 32 new reasons to love it.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

A Pickup, a Delivery, a Meeting, and a Festival

It's a busy day, especially for a Saturday.

10:30am: load up the van and drive to Lincoln, pick up some empty kegs, and deliver some full ones.

1:00pm: head down to Cortland for the more-or-less-annual meeting of the Nebraska Craft Brewers Association, held this time at Spilker Ales. Sam Spilker showed us around his newly-expanded brewery and shared some of his fine beers, as did a few of the other attendees.

Spilker Ales

Spilker Ales, Cortland NE

5:30pm: drive over to Milligan for the Nebraska Beer Tasting, held at Milligan Auditorium. About 200 people, virtually all of them of Czech descent, came out to enjoy music from a couple of polka bands and to try some Nebraska-brewed beers, provided by Gottberg, Thunderhead, Spilker, and Upstream. Great fun was had by all!

Christine and Paris enjoy pouring beers in Milligan. Tom, not so much.

Christine and Paris enjoy pouring Gottberg beers in Milligan. Tom, not so much.

The Milligan Czech Brass Band

The Milligan Czech Brass Band

Sue & the Blue River Czechs

Sue & the Blue River Czechs

Thunderhead's Trevor Schaben cuts the rug

Thunderhead's Trevor Schaben cuts the rug

Christine Parolek polkas with Sam Spilker, and Trevor's still at it.

Christine Parolek polkas with Sam Spilker, and Trevor's still at it.

The festivities ended — for us, anyway — at 10:00, and it was time for the 1½-hour drive home. I'll unload the van sometime Monday.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Tin Lizzie Hefeweizen

Seven more barrels of Tin Lizzie Hefeweizen went into the fermenter today. The brew went very well; in fact, it would have gone even better if I hadn't run the vorlauf and sparge so slowly. But it's so easy to have a stuck wheat mash, that it's worth the extra hour or so to avoid the problem.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Bloody Beer Mats

OK, this is creepy. Beermats that bleed when you put your wet glass on them, provided by the Mumbai Traffic Police.

Click here for the full article.


Cleaned a couple dozen kegs. Filled kegs for the pub and for the Grand Island distributor. Transferred 14 barrels of Root Beer into the cellar and started it carbonating.

Tomorrow: Brew seven barrels of Tin Lizzie Hefeweizen, and clean a bright beer tank so I can maybe do some filtering next week. Tom says he won't be able to come in, so I'll actually have to work!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

All-American Gold

Today's project, brewing seven barrels of All American Gold, went very well indeed, especially because Tom showed up to lend a hand again. I need to adjust the recipe again, though; we overshot our target extract by 2° Plato. That's not really a bad thing, but then this is supposed to be a light beer.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

San Jose, California

Next week, Paris and I are heading to San Jose to meet up with some old friends, including Matthias and Jenny from Germany. We're hoping to catch the Sharks games on March 30 and April 1. (Let me know if you have tickets available...I need five for each game.)

Paris and I actually met at the Sharks games; we both had season tickets from Day One. There are a lot more breweries in the area now than there were then, so:

  • Let me know which ones you'd recommend, so I can put together a tour schedule, and

  • If you're going to be in the area and want to get together for a beer, tell me when and where!

We're flying in Thursday, March 29 and having lunch at the Fire House Grill & Brewery in Sunnyvale. (Didn't that used to be the original Stoddard's?) I think the curent plan includes dinner at the Sonoma Chicken Coop in Campbell on Saturday, March 31. (Didn't that used to be Stoddard's second location?) We're leaving the morning of Wednesday, April 4. Hope to see you there!


Not a lot going on here. Cleaned the fermenter that I'll be using and dumped the grain in the hopper for tomorrow's batch of All-American Gold. Ran out to Duncan to get some sugar for root beer, only to find that the train car full of sugar didn't arrive Monday as expected. Had a couple of beers with Ben, who used to tend bar here.


Monday, March 19, 2007

Catching up

OK, I'm back. Here's what's been going on since last Monday:

Tuesday, March 13: Brewed a batch of Maibock, with the assistance of local homebrewer Tom Froehner and his brother Rob. (Actually, they did all the work.) All went well, except that the mash stuck. I blame Rob, mainly because he's not here to defend himself.

Wednesday, March 14: Spent the entire day on the road to and from Manhattan, Kansas. One of our cats needed some specialty work done, and we killed some time at Little Apple Brewing near the vet hospital.

Little Apple Brewing, Manhattan KS

Thursday, March 15: Transferred the Irish Stout and the Hefeweizen into their respective bright beer tanks in the cellar. They'll carbonate overnight.

Friday, March 16: Hooked up the nitro-tap and kegged some 1916 Irish Stout, along with a bunch of other kegs for the pub, and a few more for next weekend's Nebraska Beer Tasting in Milligan, Nebraska.

Monday, March 19: Went to the chiropractor. Worked on this week's schedule. Did the semi-monthly federal excise taxes. Neil Witte from Boulevard Brewing called to say he had a received a few of my empty kegs by mistake, and we made arrangements for me to get them back. Typed up this article.

Tomorrow, I'll clean a couple of tanks. I'd like to brew something Wednesday, but I haven't decided what it will be yet. Gold? Kölsch? Schwarzbier? Rye? Vienna? Hmmm...

Friday, March 16, 2007

Fixed my machine, lost some updates

The Good News: I've successfully replaced the LCD display in my laptop, and I can start working on the site again.

The Bad News: In the process of moving files between my old machine and my new machine, I managed to wipe out all of the updates you sent me during the recent hiatus.

So if you sent any Beer Me! Brewery Updates after March 9, you'll need to send them again. I apologize for the inconvenience, and I owe you a beer.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Hiatus of sorts

I'm going to hold off doing any updates to the site while I wait for the new parts for my laptop to arrive. The fewer files I change in the interim, the fewer chances I'll have to lose data when it's time to move everything back. Thanks for your patience.

Monday, March 12, 2007

A quiet Monday

So this weekend one of our cats discovered that my new laptop PC was a nice source of warmth. Being a rather large cat, she managed to crack the LCD screen when she curled up on the case.

Don't let this happen to you.

Don't let this happen to you.

I talked to Gateway, and they wanted SIX HUNDRED BUCKS (plus tax!) to fix the thing; I only paid $700 for the whole machine a couple of weeks ago. So I opened it up and got the part number and found a replacement on eBay for ⅓ the price, and I'll be able to install it myself in about ten minutes.

The point of this rant is that I keep my brewery schedule in an Excel spreadsheet, and that file was the one file that I neglected to copy back to my old machine before opening the display housing on the new one. That means I have no idea what I'm supposed to be doing this week. So this morning I cleaned the draft lines, because I always do that on Mondays, and I cleaned a bright beer tank because I know I'll be moving a finished batch of Hefeweizen into the cellar this week. And I came up with a recipe for tomorrow's Maibock brew.

And then I went home, because one of the cats is sick — not the Vandal Cat — and needs to see the vet.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Of Drinks and Clinks

Snopes debunks some myths about the tradition of toasting:

Claim:   The ritual of clinking glasses evolved from efforts to prove that the drinks contained therein were not poisoned.

Status:   False.

Most of the article refers to wine glasses, but it applies equally to beer. Read the whole story at Snopes.com.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Root beer deliveries

It's now officially an every-other-Friday ritual: delivering kegs of root beer to Lincoln and Council Bluffs.

Map: Columbus-Lincoln-Council Bluffs-Columbus

Left the brewery about 9:30, and got back just after 3:00.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Kegs, Tanks, and Kegs

This picture sums up today's projects:

From front to back: cleaning kegs, washing a bright beer tank, filling kegs of root beer.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

More tanks

After my chiropractic treatment this morning, I got back to the business of tank management. One sad task was to dump the remaining 3½ barrels of Fire in the Hole! Rauchbier, which like the Princess of Darkness Porter had picked up a nasty lactic bug.

Fire, down the hole

The rest of the day was spent cleaning a couple of the fermenters, and installing the last of the tri-clamp gaskets.

This is what's left in a fermenter after you take the beer out.

The "Update" form

The Brewery Update Form has a slightly different look to it now, but most of the changes are in its guts; I rewrote it using mostly PHP instead of the old shell script. Now it will be easier to integrate with a database when that time comes.

One new feature is the Remember me? checkbox at the bottom of the form. Checking it will set a couple of cookies in your browser to remember your name and email address. If you send lots of updates, this might be a handy timesaver.

Privacy policy

For some years now, I've been helping the Brewers Association maintain their brewery database by sending them copies of the updates that I receive. Lately, I've been working with beermapping.com to do the same.

Since they receive copies of the same form that I receive when you send me an update, they're also getting your email address. Both Erin Glass at the BA and Jonathan Surratt at beermapping.com have assured me that they will not use your contact information for any nefarious purposes.

The only time I'll use your address is to ask you for clarification on information that you've sent me. I might also send you a message if I think you can provide information that's relevant to my site. (For example, if you live in Bhutan, I might ask you if you have a list of Bhutanese breweries.) But I will not add your name to any mailing list*, and I won't send you anything unsolicited.

*In the event that I create a mailing list in the future, it will be subscription-only, not "opt-out", and you'll hear about it first here on the Forum, and not via unsolicited email.

To make this a bit more formal and reassuring, I've typed up an easy-to-read Privacy Policy that you can examine at beerme.com/privacy.shtml.

We now return to our regularly-scheduled beer-drinking.

Monday, March 5, 2007


The beers are starting to stack up in the fermenters, waiting to be filtered, so I need to free up some tank space in the cellar. Tank #3 is empty, but its carbonating stone needed repairs, so that was the first order of the day after the weekly draft-line-cleaning ritual.

T3's carbonating stone, before and after assembly

Once the stone was in place, I cleaned, sanitized, and pressurized the tank. I'll filter the Impromptu Pale Ale into this tank later this week.

On a sad note, the last two barrels of Princess of Darkness Porter went down the drain this afternoon. I had my camera handy, but pictures of beer going down the drain can be very disturbing. It had picked up a nasty lactic flavor in recent weeks, and Paris herself said it wasn't worthy of our customers. That tank will get cleaned, sanitized, and pressurized tomorrow while I'm filtering the Bugeater Brown, and it will likely receive the 1916 Irish Stout next week.

I checked all the temperatures and gravities of the fermenting beers, so I can figure out who gets filtered when, and which yeasts to harvest for the upcoming brews.

I tried printing our February tax returns, but my old Lexmark X125 printer isn't compatible with the Windows Vista that came installed on my new Gateway NX570X notebook. I emailed Lexmark support asking if they're planning to release an X125 Vista driver, but I haven't heard anything back yet. It looks like I'll be filling out the forms by hand this month. How 20th century.

Tomorrow: Filtration, cleaning, and another beer gets dumped.

Reunion - A Beer For Hope

Reunion Beer is Alan Shapiro's project to raise money for the Institute for Myeloma & Bone Cancer Research. You can help by donating money or buying the beer, or both! Alan explains how and why in this email, recently distributed throughout the beer industry.

For those of you interested in learning more about the
Reunion - A Beer for Hope project, last week I did an
interview with Pacific Brew News which is available
online at:

Show Page

Direct Download

We'll have it up on the href="http://www.reunionbeer.com/">www.reunionbeer.com
site very soon.

As I note in the interview, the beer has been very
well-received - but beer sales alone won't get us to our
fundraising goal. For those of you that can make any
small contribution, please do so as soon as possible.
They are getting very close to a cure, and the money
we raise can potentially make a huge difference in the
lives of thousands of Myeloma patients - including my
friend Virginia.

You can click on the donate now button on the
href="http://www.reunionbeer.com/">www.reunionbeer.com site, or go to

Thanks for supporting REUNION!


------------------------------------------ 02/07/07

Dear friends and industry colleagues,

I'm writing to tell you about a special charity
beer that I have created to raise funds for the
Institute for Myeloma & Bone Cancer Research
(IMBCR) and to ask for your support. (To fast
forward on the explanation please go to

Nearly 4 years ago my very close friend and former
co-worker at Pete's Brewing, Virginia MacLean, was
diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma - a currently incurable
form of bone cancer. For now, myeloma patients must hope
that their doctors are able to find the right combination
of chemo drugs to "manage" the disease.

Fortunately, Virginia is being treated by a doctor whose
particular brilliance is in his ability to mix common
compounds like vitamin C and varying doses of typical
myeloma treatment drugs to customize solutions for his
patients. In many cases he has been able to dramatically
improve the quality and length of his patients' lives.

Virginia's case has been difficult - but on the 6th
drug cocktail mix, there has finally been meaningful
improvement. This is fantastic news, but it does come at
a significant physical and emotional cost - it is chemo.
To watch her go through this with incredible grace and
strength while holding a full time tech job and raising
a beautiful 2 year old girl is remarkable.

Unfortunately, I am not a great scientist who can help
find a cure for this disease, but I do know a little bit
about creating beers and bringing them to market. So,
with the help of our friend Pete Slosberg (the creator
of Pete's Wicked Ale) we have created REUNION Organic
Imperial Brown Ale, brewed at Bison Brewery in Berkeley,
CA (see attached label).

Our goal is to create awareness and raise funds for IMBCR
- the foundation operated by Virginia's doctor, James
Berenson. I will donate 100% of the profits generated
by the sale of this beer, and several partners such as
Beverages & More! & Kimpton Hotels are working
with us to promote the beer and this cause. Over the
next 30 days the beer will be available at leading
specialty beer retailers in CA, OR, WA, AZ, CO, & IL.
If you don't live in one of those states, please email
me and I'd be happy to direct you to retail accounts
who may be able to ship the beer to you via mail order.
There is also information on these retailers on the
href="http://www.reunionbeer.com/">www.reunionbeer.com site, as well as much more
on Virginia's story.

Here's how you can help:

1. DONATE MONEY! I have visited the IMBCR facilities
and met the team. They are doing fantastic work
and need our support. Whether you can contribute
$10 or $10,000 it will make a difference.
href="http://www.reunionbeer.com/">www.reunionbeer.com will take you to the donation page.

2. Buy the beer!

3. Spread the word. Feel free to pass this message
along to others who you think may be interested.
You can also send comments, suggestions, or words
of encouragement via the contact page on the
href="http://www.reunionbeer.com/">www.reunionbeer.com site.

Thanks for your help in making this project a great


Good Beer Not Just a Matter of Taste

LiveScience.com reports something that we beer judges* have known all along:

Good beer is not something you should think about. Knowing what's in a beer, or who made it, can taint your taste buds, a new study finds.


The tasters were divided into three groups. One tasted the samples “blind,” with no knowledge of the secret ingredient. A second group found out about the vinegar before tasting the MIT brew. The third group learned of the additive immediately after tasting the special brew, but before indicating a preference between the two beers.

The blind group preferred the MIT brew over the regular beer significantly more than either of the informed groups. Apparently, vinegar can improve a beer’s taste, the scientists said.

Read the entire article here.

*BJCP National #C0481

Beer-Launching Fridge

This showed up on Days That End in Y last week:

If I weren't so lazy, I'd build this fridge perfect for my lazy butt. This bierkatapult (beer-launching mini fridge) is just awesome. It launches up to ten cans of beer. Launches and launch angle are controlled remotely.

The inventor describes his work at beerlauncher.com, and there's a terrific video of it in action at metacafe.com.

Bob Franklin, are you listening?

Friday, March 2, 2007

Unibroue Tasting at Hy-Vee

Jeff Mapes, the liquor manager at our local Hy-Vee grocery store, has been doing a great job of bringing excellent beers to our small city in northeastern Nebraska. This week, he hosted a tasting of beers from Canada's fantastic Unibroue brewery. With about 25 people in attendance, including Paris and me, Jeff brought out a four-pack each of:

Jeff also offers La Terrible and 15 in his store, and after a little cajoling, he brought a up a 750-ml bottle of each for our enjoyment.

The beers were all excellent and fresh (except the Éphémère, but that's just because I don't like fruit beers), and the beer and Cajun brats were tasty too. After the show, we went through the liquor section and bought some Unibroue four-packs for the cellar.

Hy-Vee's next event will be March 15, an Irish-themed party involving several Stouts and Irish Red Ales, whisky, and corned beef and cabbage. I'll even bring some of my 1916 Irish Stout!

It's Friday already?!?

Where'd this week go? I didn't even realize I hadn't been posting until I got home today. So, catching up...

Tuesday: I got the (hopefully) last part I'll need to get the filter working. I also got seven liters of Wyeast 3068 Weihenstephan Weizen Yeast that I'll use to brew some Tin Lizzie Hefeweizen later this week. While I was brewing today's batch of Harvey's Märzen - which I finished in a personal-record three hours and sixteen minuted - I cleaned and sanitized the fermenter that I'll use for that Hefeweizen. While the caustic was running through the heat exchanger after the brew, I called Linweld and ordered a new bottle of oxygen.

The missing link

Wednesday: Brewed seven barrels of Tin Lizzie Hefeweizen. It took almost exactly one hour longer than yesterday's brew, because wheat is a Really Sticky grain to work with, and you can't run the wort off as quickly as you can with an all-barley brew. If you try to speed up that part of the process, you're likely to end up with a mash tun full of concrete, which will lengthen your brew day significantly.

Thursday: Climbed into the kettle to scrub out the beerstone. Ran caustic, acid, and sanitizer through the heat exchanger. Cleaned, sanitized, and pressurized the bright beer tank that will receive the All-American Gold as it emerges from the filter tomorrow. Reassembled the filter and checked it for leaks, and found none. Cleaned and sanitized the filter. Gave a tour to a group of six beer lovers from Seward. Cleaned about three dozen kegs, and filled a few for the pub and for Monday's Grand Island pickup. Hy-Vee, ur local grocery store and the only decent beer store this side of Omaha, conducted a tasting of Unibroue beers, which I'll talk about in a separate article.

The keg pile, before and after cleaning

Friday: "Columbus, you are go for filtration." It's the day we've been waiting for. The filter is assembled and doesn't appear to be leaking, the tank is clean and ready to go, and the excess yeast has been dumped from the fermenter. The filter takes about 20 minutes to set up. When all goes well — and it did go well today — seven barrels of beer get through the filter in about 20 minutes. Cleanup afterward takes 1½ to 2 hours. I ended up with six barrels out of my 7½-barrel batch, because I siphoned off some yeast to use in last week's brews.

The filter in operation

No leaks!

Unfiltered beer on top, filtered beer on bottom

All-American Gold, before and after filtration

The beige schmutz is a mixture of diatomaceous earth and the stuff that got filtered out of the beer

A tour group was supposed to come up from Lincoln today, but they only got as far as Raymond before the snow turned them back. I tried to do our monthly excise taxes, but my new laptop (Gateway NX570X) doesn't seem to want to work with my old printer (Lexmark X125).

All in all, a satisfyingly productive week. Next week: more filtrations and more brewing.