The Science Behind Homebrewing: NC Museum of Natural Sciences

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is holding an event all about the science of homebrewing!  For $10, join the workshop at the museum on Thursday, May 22, at 6:00pm, and learn about what it takes to brew your own beer.  You’ll also be able to participate in a live demonstration of the brewing process.

Unfortunately, there will be no sampling of beer during the event, but it looks to be well worth a $10 trip to the museum.  More info can be found below. Read more »

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We’re Opening a Craft Beer Store

You probably haven’t noticed, but I have not posted very many new blog posts over the past few months.  Once you read this article, hopefully you’ll understand why, and maybe you’ll find it in your heart to forgive me for my lack of articles about homebrewing.

My wife, Katy, and I are going to be opening a new retail craft beer store!

But not just any craft beer store…

The glass jug logoThe Glass Jug (that’s the name of our new store) is going to sell bottles and cans of beer, but we’re also going to have a 16-tap draft beer bar featuring various local and hard-to-find craft beers, and a seating area where you can relax and enjoy a pint before you head home.  We’ve already been in talks with some breweries across the state about picking up their beer that isn’t distributed to the RDU market and are even negotiating some special one-off collaborations with various NC breweries.  If that isn’t enough, we’re also going to make all 16 of the beers on tap available in growlers so you can take them home to enjoy. Read more »

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FastRack Bottle Drying & Storage System Review

fastrack homebrew beer drying and storage system

Full Disclosure: FastRack sent me two free racks in exchange for writing a review.  However, the opinions below reflect my honest feelings on this product.  I do not endorse products that I do not actually believe in, and this review is no different.

One of the biggest pains when homebrewing is bottling.  Whenever you want to bottle a batch of beer, you end up cleaning, sanitizing, filling, and capping roughly 50 bottles.  It’s tedious.  And it’s the reason that a lot of homebrewers eventually buy a kegging system.

But not all beers are best on draft.  Some beer matures best in bottles – particularly those big high-alcohol imperial stouts or your sour Belgian styles, and even a hefeweizen is best when served on lees.  And then there is the issue of competitions.  To enter a beer into a competition, you are usually required to send in bottles (with some rare exceptions).

All of that is to say that bottles are a necessary evil in the homebrewing world. Read more »

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Follow-Up Review: GrogTag *Dry Erase* Keg/Carboy Labels

A few months back, I posted a review of the GrogTag beer bottle labels and the keg/carboy labels.  They’re a great product, but in my review I mentioned that one of the difficulties with the keg/carboy labels is that the material does not work well with crayon, which is the required utensil if you plan on re-using the labels.  The crayon works much better on the reusable bottle labels, but on the keg/carboy labels, the crayon just wouldn’t stick.

Well, GrogTag has answered!  Not long after my post, GrogTag announced new dry erase keg/carboy labels.  While they still can’t be moved from one keg/carboy to another (like the bottle labels), the new material allows you to use dry erase markers to label your fermenting or carbonating brews, with the promise of being easy to erase and re-use many times. Read more »

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Brewing With Local Malt – Part 2

Local malt american wheat aleAlmost exactly a month ago, I posted a write-up of my experience brewing with locally sourced NC-grown AMBA recommended 2-row malted barley and organic wheat malt from Farm Boy Farms in Pittsboro, NC.  As a quick recap, the takeaways from the brew day were:

  • Lower than expected efficiency
  • Great bready aroma when mashing
  • Lots of tails mixed in with the grain
  • The SRM (color) of the 2-row was listed at 6, which is a bit dark, but did not appear that dark
  • The kernels are small and hard, making milling difficult unless you’re using a 3-roller mill

Now that it’s finished fermenting and has made it into the keg, it’s time to give the finished product a fair tasting to see how it stacks up.  I will also be entering this beer into a local competition or two to get some judges feedback (I’ll update this post once I get scores in hand). Read more »

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19th Annual Shamrock Homebrew Competition – Judges Needed

CARBOY’s 19th annual BJCP/AHA certified Shamrock homebrew competition will be held on Saturday, March 8th at the North Hills Club, 4824 Yadkin Drive, in Raleigh, NC
and they are currently recruiting judges to come out and judge some great beers!  The only way that they can continue to have a quality competition is to have quality judges who offer their time and brewing knowledge and talents.

Registration begins on January 27th and closes on February 22nd.  All entries must be dropped off or delivered by February 22nd.  For those judging, a light breakfast will be provided in the morning and sandwiches for lunch.  Additional details will be provided once the competition website has been updated. Read more »

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Beer Education Classes at Rockingham Community College

This is a bit of a last-minute post, but with the holidays and…life…time got away from me for a bit there, so I apologize.  But it’s important, I promise!

Starting THIS SATURDAY, January 11th, I will be teaching a series of beer education classes that are intended to help prepare people for the Cicerone Certified Beer Server exam and the Certified Cicerone® exam.  The classes will be held on Saturdays in January & February (schedule below) at Rockingham Community College’s brewery/classroom space in downtown Eden, NC.

Schedule

  • January 11, 8am-12pm: Intro to Beer Service (Certified Beer Server exam prep)
  • January 25, 8am-12pm: Keeping & Serving Beer. English beer style history & tasting
  • February 8, 8-12pm: Beer Ingredients & Brewing Process. German beer style history & tasting
  • February 8, 1-5pm: Beer & Food Pairing.  Belgian beer style history & tasting
  • February 22, 8am-12pm: Sensory evaluation & off-flavors. American beer style history & tasting. Preparation for the Certified Cicerone® exam

For more information on the Brewing, Distillation, and Fermentation program and Rockingham Community College, or to register for this series of classes, contact Cindy Amos at 336-342-4261, ext. 2206.

For more information about the Cicerone Certification program, check out their website.  Also, read my notes from when I took the Certified Cicerone exam.

This course is not affiliated with or endorsed by the Cicerone Certification Program.

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Brewing With Locally Sourced Malt – Farm Boy Farms

farm_boy_farms_logo-1_Farm Boy Farms is a local maltster and hop supplier in central North Carolina.  They opened in 2011 with a goal of supplying high quality local ingredients to craft breweries and homebrewers.  This is their fourth year growing AMBA recommended 2-row.  They have also grown AMBA 6-row, Robust, but  now focus on 2-row. Farm Boy is one of two local maltsters in North Carolina, joining Riverbend Malt House, which is located in Asheville, NC.  We wrote a post a while back about purchasing all-grain homebrew ingredient kits from Riverbend.

But why should you buy local malt?  Grain is a highly competitive market, and prices have come down dramatically over the past decade, so why would you pay more for local malt?

Homebrewers and craft brewers have always had a desire to support their other local small businesses, and that is one of the great things about this industry.  The craft beer and homebrewing serge over the past five years in North Carolina has resulted in an economy that supports local farms as much as they support their local beer.  It’s a symbiotic relationship.

OK, so buying local is the “right thing to do,” but at the end of the day, you want to make the best beer you can, and you don’t want to sacrifice quality to support local, especially if it’s going to cost a little more. Read more »

Categories: All-Grain Brewing, Brewing Techniques | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Motorizing a Homebrew Grain Mill

DIY homebrew grain milling stationAnyone who knows me knows that I love to tinker.  My homebrewing hobby has spawn countless other hobbies – carpentry (brew stand, fermentation fridge, bar), wood turning (taphandles), electric (eHERMS, stir plate, brewbot), blogging (duh), soldering (eHERMS, brewbot)…you get the idea.

So, when I recently sat down to think about my next steps in my homebrewing journey, I wanted to focus on making some of the more tedious tasks easier and more enjoyable.  And that starts with milling grain.

I own an old barley crusher grain mill.  It works OK, but the rollers are getting a bit warn out, and I’m considering upgrading to a 3-roller Monster Mill soon (if you’re looking to buy me a Christmas gift…).  But this is not a post on mill reviews (I already did that), this is about the milling process.

When you are milling grain, if you’re like me then you have one hand either cranking or pulling the trigger on your drill, one hand holding the base on a bucket (because if you don’t, you inevitably will end up with grain all over your garage floor…yes, I’ve done that, and yes, I still brewed with it), and then you need another hand pouring your grain into the hopper.  And unless you’re one of the lucky ones with three hands, then this is a bit of a difficult dance.

The solution I’ve come to is to attach the mill to a stationary milling station (so I don’t have to hold the base and don’t risk grain on the garage floor), and to power the mill so that I only have to hit a switch instead of holding the trigger on the drill.  That frees up my two hands to measure grain and feed it into the hopper. Read more »

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RailHawks Homebrew Soktoberfest

RailHawks Soktoberfest

For the second consecutive year, the Carolina RailHawks will be presenting a homebrew tasting presented by Lonerider Brewery this Saturday, October 26th!

For the two hours prior to the start of the RailHawks game against the Atlanta Silverbacks, (5-7pm) you can enjoy tasting homebrewed beer from 25 of the areas best homebrewers in addition to draft beer from Lonerider. Read more »

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