Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Hops on the way

Following Trevor's lead, I called HopUnion this morning to see what they had available. Out of the dozens of varieties that they usually stock, they had but one: Argentina Cascade. They're described as similar to Spalt, which I love, so I ordered two 44-pound boxes at $19.50 per pound. It's a lot of money, but it should just about cover my needs for the rest of the year, so I won't have to worry about hops any more.

I also ordered enough Briess malt to brew ten batches or so. Some of those prices have gone up as much as a dime a pound since last time I ordered malt.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Links & Stories

Here's a bunch of links to beer stories that I'm way behind on:

I told me so

A couple of weeks ago, when I said I didn't get much done...well, I wish now that I would have. The Bugeater Brown Ale ran out this morning while I was cleaning the draft lines. I did brew a batch last Tuesday; it will be ready to filter this Thursday, and I'll tap it on Friday.

Also accomplished last week: brewed a batch of Tin Lizzie Hefeweizen.

Today: Lots of keg cleaning, which I couldn't finish last Friday because the bilge pumps in the cellar were under repair. I learned this as the cellar floor became immersed more deeply in water as I started cleaning the kegs. I'll fill keg orders on Wednesday and get a couple of bright tanks sanitized and pressurized. The Brown and Gold get filtered on Thursday.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Odyssey map

Fifteen and a half years after the fact, I've finally created a Google Earth map to go along with my Beer Odyssey article. No real big deal, but it's been on my list for a long long time.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

More new beers at home

Our latest Liquid Solutions order arrived today!

I'll post the tasting notes as we work our way through the bottles.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

2007, by the numbers

Some statistics regarding Gottberg Brew Pub's 2007 production and sales:

  • Beer

    • 35 brews

      • Malt

        • 11,490 pounds of barley malt

        • 2,975 pounds of wheat malt

        • 200 pounds of rye malt

        • Total malt cost: $6,604 ($0.45 per pound)

      • Hops

        • 127 pounds of hops

        • Total hops cost: $766 ($6.04 per pound)

      • Total production: 207 barrels (6,417 gallons / 24,300 liters)

    • Removals

      • To Gottberg/Dusters: 176.66 barrels (5,477 gallons / 20,700 liters )

      • To wholesalers: 21.33 barrels (661 gallons / 2,500 liters)

      • Returned to the brewery: 3.33 barrels (103 gallons / 391 liters)

      • Net removals: 194.66 barrels (6,034 gallons / 22,800 liters)

    • Excise taxes

      • Federal @ $7 per barrel: $1,363

      • Nebraska @ $0.3069 per gallon: $1,852

      • Total excise taxes: $3,215

  • Soda

    • Root Beer

      • 39 seven-barrel batches (8,463 gallons / 32,000 liters)

      • 9,750 pounds of sugar

      • 23½ gallons of root beer extract

      • 24⅜ pounds of sodium benzoate

      • 19½ pounds of citric acid

    • Red Cream Soda

      • 2 seven-barrel batches (434 gallons / 1,650 liters)

      • 500 pounds of sugar

      • 1¼ gallons of red cream soda extract

      • 20 ounces of sodium benzoate

      • 16 ounces of citric acid

    • Orange Cream Soda

      • 1 seven-barrel batch (217 gallons / 820 liters)

      • 250 pounds of sugar

      • 0.6 gallons of orange cream soda extract

      • 10 ounces of sodium benzoate

      • 8 ounces of citric acid

Thursday, January 17, 2008


This week hasn't gone according to plan at all. Between Monday's root beer shuffle, this sinus infection I've had all week, and my achin' back, I didn't get any brewing done. Plus I used up all of my Dark Chocolate Malt in the Empress of Darkness, so I wouldn't have been able to brew the Bugeater Brown Ale anyway.

Instead, I filled kegs and did some paperwork. Jim at Empyrean Brewing said he could loan me some Dark Chocolate Malt; I'll pick it up on Friday at the Winterfest Ales & Auction in Lincoln.

So next week looks something like this:

  • Monday: Clean the draft lines, Brew the Brown Ale

  • Wednesday: Brew the Hefeweizen

  • Thursday: Clean and fill kegs

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Self-distribution for breweries in Nebraska

This just in, courtesy of Brian Collins: LB 955 was introduced to the Nebraska Legislature on January 14. This bill amends the Nebraska Liquor Control Act to permit breweries to sell beer directly to retailers. You can read the entire (PDF) text of the bill at the Nebraska Legislature web site.

For small breweries, the three-tier system is an impediment to getting beer into the marketplace. Once a brewery reaches a certain size, it makes sense to give a third party a share of the revenue in exchange for delivering the beer, but very small operations can't afford that overhead. So I'm totally in favor of this bill. My only concern is how existing wholesaler contracts will be affected: if we already have a contract with a local wholesaler, will that prevent us from self-distributing our beer locally? If so, the bill is essentially meaningless for existing breweries.

In any case, I'll be contacting my State Senator today. If you're a Nebraska resident, you can find your Senator's contact information at nebraskalegislature.gov.

[Edit 2008-01-19: Nate at the Nebraska Beer Blog points out that the bill in fact specifically allows out-of-state alcohol (except beer) manufacturers to own Nebraska liquor distributors. It does not in fact have anything to do with self-distribution for breweries in Nebraska. So I do not support this bill. If the state wants a strict three-tier system, then it damned well better apply to everybody. My comments above about the three-tier system impeding small brewers still stand, but they're not relevant to this bill.]

Monday, January 14, 2008

The kegs go out

So those twenty half-barrels of root beer I filled up over the weekend? The driver called this morning and said he was on his way to pick up the twenty five-gallon kegs they had ordered. I checked the order form, and sure enough, that's what they ordered. I spent an hour filling twenty five-gallon kegs before he arrived.

Fortunately, my customer in Council Bluffs just ordered six of the half-barrels, which I'll deliver tomorrow, and my customer in Grand Island ordered two more, which they'll pick up next Monday.

But it's still a lot of root beer.

But it's still a lot of root beer.

Tomorrow's scheduled Bugeater Brown Ale brew is rescheduled for Thursday.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Kegs, and a tour

I came in early to finish filling the root beer kegs before the tour group showed up. I was told that there were just four people, all homebrewers. Turns out it was one homebrewer and about fifteen members of his extended family.

Sunday's tour group

They were a fun bunch, though, with lots of good questions, and they bought a bunch of beer and a growler afterwards. Turns out one of them even knows my dad.

On tap for the coming week: Brew Brown Ale (Tuesday) and Hefeweizen (Wednesday). The Winterfest Ales & Auction is this coming Friday in Lincoln.

Friday, January 11, 2008

My achin' back

Yesterday found me visiting the back doctor in Omaha for more follow-up. I had been getting trigger point injections, and along with physical therapy, I'd been getting good results. But lately I've hit a plateau, and while the pain is a lot better than it was four months ago, it's no longer improving. The doctor said that more trigger point injections aren't going to make much difference. The next step: botox injections. Botulinum toxin will block the nerve signals that are making the muscles spasm, thereby fixing the problem. He all but guaranteed success, so I gave him the go-ahead. It should happen in the next few weeks, I hope.

So today was my last physical therapy visit until after the botox adventure. At the brewery, I got an order from Norfolk asking for 20 half-barrels of root beer, so I filled as many as I could before the tanks ran dry. I refilled the tanks from the huge batches I made on Wednesday; I'll come in Sunday to fill the rest of the kegs.

I dumped out the flat keg of Uncle Ivan's Dunkelweizen and replaced it with a properly-carbonated half-barrel. I also dumped out the current keg of Propeller Amber Lager, which was tasting awfully lactic. The new keg tastes much better.

Brewery news ticker

The newest feature at Beer Me! is the Brewery News Ticker:

Brewery News Ticker

As I run across brewery stories on the Internet, I'll post them to the ticker and also to the brewery's own Beer Me! page. It's a very manual process right now, but I'm working on some automation that should help.

If you find any stories of interest, use the contact form to pass them along. (Select "I have comments relevant to the 'Beer Me!' Web site".)

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

35 barrels of root beer

I received a new batch of my house yeast today, and I cleaned the tank that until yesterday contained Bugeater Brown Ale. But the big project was the mixing up of 35 barrels (1085 gallons) of root beer. The first batch was 21 barrels, and the second was fourteen. This video shows how it's done:

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Kegs and sugar

When I got to the brewery after physical therapy this morning, I found a pallet of sugar waiting for me. That's 2100 pounds of sugar, enough for almost 60 barrels of root beer. Now I can get caught up on making soda...whee!

This afternoon, I kegged off what was left of the Brown Ale, opening up a bright beer tank for...I don't know what, because nothing's really in the works yet.

The carbonation level on the Uncle Ivan's Dunkelweizen was a bit low, but I filled and tapped a half-barrel anyway. It's disappointingly flat. I'll turn up the pressure on the tank and keg another one tomorrow.

Monday, January 7, 2008

It's almost Dunkelweizen

Monday: cleaned the draft lines, transferred the Uncle Ivan's Dunkelweizen to the cellar, filled kegs, and sent out my sporadically-published brewery newsletter. (Drop me a line if you'd like to subscribe.) I'll keg some Dunkelweizen and put it on tap tomorrow.

Saturday, January 5, 2008


Here's a nifty tool that displays beer prices around the world. You can contribute to the data by clicking the "Add your city" link next to the map.


Click on the Beerdex image above to get started.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

The routine resumes

The holidays are past — not a moment too soon — and it's back to the grind, such as it is. The Empress of Darkness is bubbling massively away, and I had to hose the yeast and foam off the fermenter room floor this morning.

The Propeller Amber Lager was tasting fairly nasty yesterday. This morning, I replaced a wall bracket in the draft line, changing it from a Y connection to a straight-through. Since we don't use one side of the Y, mold can build up there and foul the beer. It tastes better now than it did yesterday, but it's still off. I might dump this keg tomorrow and fill a fresh one to see if there's any difference.

I cleaned a whole pile of kegs, and filled a few for the pub.

Finally, I came up with a List of Things to Do in the Very Near Future:

  • Order yeast

  • Monday 1/14: Brew Bugeater Brown Ale

  • Wednesday 1/16: Brew Tin Lizzie Hefeweizen

  • Get sugar

  • Make root beer (lots of root beer)

  • Replace the rest of the wall brackets

  • Find hops

  • Tuesday 1/8: Keg off the Brown

  • Tuesday 1/8: Clean, sanitize, and pressurize bright tanks 4 and 6

  • Monday 1/7: Transfer Uncle Ivan's Dunkelweizen

I'll post the specifics on the calendar tonight or tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

2008's first brew

The first brew of 2008 was a big one: the Empress of Darkness is in the tank! She's a scaled-up version of the Princess of Darkness Porter. Scaled-up, indeed: the original extract is a whopping 21.5°P, and we're expecting the final abv to be in the neighborhood of 9%.

KJ of Huber Haus fame drove in from Omaha to help with the brewing; in fact, he did all of the heavy work. He said he'll be posting pictures on his Facebook page, which I'll link to when I find out where it is.

And speaking of the Huber Haus, we'll be pouring the Empress at the Extreme Beerfest on February 23.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Getting Vertical on New Year's Day

Paris and I generally celebrate the first day of the new year by raiding our beer cellar. Tom Froehner joined us at home, and we all enjoyed a lineup of Sierra Nevada Bigfoot barleywines dating back to 2001.

Appearance Aroma Mouthfeel
2007 Bright red-brown. Thick head. Perfumey, a bit oaky, some vanilla. Creamy body. Hugely malty and firecely hoppy. Bitterness is still a bit harsh, resiny.
2006 There's no 2006 in my cellar!
2005 Red-brown, hazy. Moderate head. Malty, almost chocolatey, some vanilla. Big smooth body. Hugely malty, hugely bitter. Resiny, but not like the 2007. Citrus hop flavor in the background. Some earthy, oaky character. Some astringency in the finish.
2004 Bright red-brown. Low head. Sweet, malty, with more oaky character than the 2005. Big body, really smooth. Lots of malt, with a real nice earthy, woody character. Very bitter, but very much in balance.
2003 Red-brown, some yeast. Low head. Mild toasty malt. Mild grassy hops. Mild alcohol. Big body, low carbonation. Big toasty, caramel malt supports a big grassy, resiny bitterness. Maybe just a little less smooth than the 2004.
2002 Bright deep red. Low head. Spicy, alcohol? Toasty sweet malt. Big creamy body. Intensely malty and really hoppy, with a grassy, fruity, resiny flavor and a big bitterness. Spicy alcohol, and a big wood character from the malt. Fairly warming, with lots of alcohol on the tongue. Very nice beer.
2001 Bright red. Low head. Big dark caramel. Hint of maple. Mildly resiny. Medium-big body, smooth. Fiercely malty with lots of wood character. Big bitterness, resiny, but in balance. Just a hint of solvent (acetone) with the alcohol. Warming, malty, resiny, alcoholic finish.

To make up for the lack of Bigfoot 2006, we cracked open a bottle of North Coast Old Stock 2002.

The pièce de résistance, if I may say so, was the annual bottle of Cow Palace Scotch Ale, which I brewed at Egan Brewing in De Pere WI back in 1998. I bottled twelve 7-ounce bottles from the last keg, and we've been opening one bottle every year around this time. This was bottle #8, and it keeps getting better every year. Choo asked me what I'll do when the last one is gone, and I answered, "Mourn."