Breakpoint Brewery

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The Hop Report

Well, another Friday night. You know what that means – The Hop Report! But here’s some Requiem’s Rollercoaster with Citrus Ale Marinaded grilled chicken.

Tonight, I went with a little more major brewery beer – Sam Adams Latitude 48 IPA. I still consider this a craft beer and am thankful for Sam Koch’s efforts in revolutionizing the beer scene. While Sam Adams has a considerable lineup of good beers and Latitude 48 IPA is definitely a good beer, there’s just too many better beers. I’m glad I tried it, but I’ll probably pass it up next time around. It has the hop profile of an English IPA, which is perfectly good, but not my cup of tea. I prefer the insanity of an American IPA, such as my Mooney Stars IPA.

This beer is insane. It’s got all of that resin-y hop goodness that I love in an IPA. While it has a considerable amount of bitterness, probably from the FWH, it basically kicks you in the face with citrus-y aroma. I’m hoping the carbonation improves over the next few weeks and hop debris clears from the beer, but right now this beer is awesome! I think the Simpsons Golden Promise creates an ideal malt backbone for something this hop forward.

Well, onto The Hop Report – they are all doing quite well. I have noticed a bit bug infestation as the leaves are eaten up a little bit, but I’d prefer to avoid using chemicals on them so I’m just going to keep a close eye on them. They’re all growing, but it appears that the Zeus and Cascades are having a little trouble climbing the wooden posts. It’s possible that I left a few too many sprouts climb and now they are weighing each other down.

Here they are:





Pride of Ringwoods

I’m still trying to figure out if the Pride of Ringwoods are Cascades and the Cascades are Pride of Ringwoods. They appear to have fairly distinct leaves, so I need to do some Google searching to discern which is which.

Well, I hope to get my Wye Oak CD this weekend, but it appears that Monday may be the earliest possible delivery. Based on what I have already heard and the fact that I’m considering an American Brown Ale, I should still be able to fit in a brew day next weekend for this “Mashing with Merge” beer.


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Conversion Factor

The day of rapture is upon us!* No better time than now to brew a beer – hopefully, I’ll still be around to enjoy it after it’s fermented!

One of the bonuses of being a scientist is that you can occassionally come across an unwanted laboratory item that can be re-purposed and utilized in the brewery. This was the case with the scale I use to weigh by base malts because it has a larger area for weighing and can handle larger amounts of grain than what I use for specialty malts and hops. The only unfortunate thing is that it will only weigh in kilograms which isn’t a big deal because I have a conversion app on my phone and it’s always easy to use Google for such a thing.  Plus, I’m single-handedly trying to overthrow The Stonecutters. Today, though, it kind of bit me in the butt. I thought my base malt was 9 pounds (in actuality, the total brew was 9 pounds with the base just being 7.5 pounds), so I converted that and then weighed out the 4.08 kg of pale malt – only to realize my mistake after I had crushed the grain and was preheating the mash tun. Oh well, I guess this beer will be a little stronger than planned…maybe more of a ESB, then just a Best Bitter. I did add an extra hop addition to hopefully keep the balance between malt and hops.

My original plan was to FWH with the Simcoe’s and then bitter with some Centennials followed by a finish with Centennials. With the extra gravity I added another charge of Centennials at 30 minutes to increase the bitterness. Of course, it may not have been necessary seeing how fragrant all the hops were, but especially the Simcoe. Fortunately, when weighing out hops, I have a scale that reads in both metric and English (though I typically weigh out in grams because it seems a little more accurate than weighing in ounces on this scale).

I did overshoot my gravity by about 10 points. Also, I ended up with only about 4 gallons in the fermenter because I had trouble with the siphoning from the kettle again. For whatever reason my kettle diptube clogs even with only 2.5 ounces of hops in the kettle. I’ve been slowly collecting the parts to set up my March pump, so that I can whirlpool my wort during chilling and pump the wort into the fermenter without moving the kettle.

Otherwise, the brew day went pretty well and I wasn’t raptured – even the yeast were not raptured and started fermenting the wort in under 12 hours.

* – Apparently, the rapture has been moved to October 21, 2011 – better drink up!

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Requiem’s Stars

My goal in this blog is to track my brewing progress and make notes on past brews, so that when I brew them again I can tweak them until I’m happy with them to re-brew them.

Anyway, I’ve been drinking Requiem’s Rollercoaster for a few weeks now. The color on this beer came out great. Unfortunately, the sweat on the glass makes it look cloudy, but you’ll have to take my word that it is crystal clear. The aroma of this beer is quite unique. There’s this hint of the roast from the roasted barley, but it’s not overpowering. I would have to say that the roasted barley probably contributed to the excellent color, but I may cut back on it (possibly just 2 oz) or switch with some Carafa III to maintain the color while subdueing the roastiness. It’s not really the aroma of the roast that has me down on it, but the aftertaste that it leaves in – it’s almost like a rauchbier. There is a nice and subtle fruity hop aroma that comes wafts out of the glass with the roastiness. Overall, the flavor is a great balance of hops and malt with the caramel sweetness sitting at right about the level I wanted it. The hops are great and I would probably leave them mostly the same with potentially some increase in the FWH or finishing hops just to get a little more of that resin-y hoppiness that I love (though this may move it more from an AAA to an American Pale Ale).

Mooney Stars IPA is not at the drinking stage, yet (though, it should be and only isn’t because I was too lazy to clean the keg and keg it sooner), I did keg it this past weekend. I was siphoning it out of the bucket, but all the hops that I had to put in the fermenter got in the way and clogged up the autosiphon. Eventually, I was able to get about 4 gallons in the keg. I will let it chill and carb for a few weeks or so, then I’ll try it out. I have not pulled a final gravity reading on it, but I’ll do that with the first pull off the kegerator which is usually full of yeast anyway. Anyway, I think the next time I brew a monster IPA, then I’m gonna make sure that I either have an improved non-clog-able diptube or I’ll use hop pellets.

So far, the first two “Mashing with Merge” brews have gone well. I think this project has kept me creative with the recipe process keeping me on my toes with new ingredients and processes.

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Backroom Bitter

Well, I received my CDs last week. I really enjoy supporting a company that has free shipping. It’s clear they understand that their customer’s are just as passionate about their music as they are. As you can see, I was passionate enough about them to upload them to my brewing computer already. Also, one of the great things about this purchase is that the Superchunk CD came with two digital downloads from Merge – A live CD and demos from Here’s Where the Strings Come In.

While I am brewing a two beers this month, I’m not really going to review Here’s Where The Strings Come In as it’s been around for a while and I can’t really say that it is inspiring my second beer. Instead, I will use the excuse that I am brewing a big, huge American Barleywine in honor of the awesome, strong and long-enduring career of Superchunk (and not that I’m trying to clean out my brew closet of aging ingredients). If I’m so inclined I may even send them a bottle of it (if it’s worth that kind of distribution).

I am, though, utilizing the tunes of East River Pipe’s We Live In Rented Rooms to inspire the other beer that I am brewing this month. With that, I’ll write a little mini-review of this album that no one will read, but it will make me feel better and that’s what this blog is all about…me.

Anyway, enough with the self-pity, though, I will say that We Live In Rented Rooms has an underlying bitter tone to it (this is a bit of foreshadowing for the future beer recipe). The album begins with “Backroom Deals” a sad, yet catchy tune with it’s chorus describing how the world moves forward on underhanded agreements. “Tommy Made a Movie” is a rather eclectic tune reminiscent of an ’80s Duran Duran album and may be the low point of the album, but despite that I find the synthetic loop running in my head. To continue down the eclectic stream of We Live In Rented Rooms, “When You Were Doing Cocaine” has a Billy Joel-esque sound to it – probably the piano tunes and tuneful vocals. “Summer Boy” is a quiet tune, while “Flames Are Coming Back” is my clear favorite of the album with the swells of instrumentation and vivid vocal imagery.  All in all, another solid album from another Merge artist (do they have any bad ones?) and I’ll probably pick up The Gasoline Age (to remind myself of the days when gas was under a dollar).

Anyway, if you have not guessed from the foreshadowing earlier in the post, I’ll be making a bitter for this album. I think it’ll be more in the Best Bitter category as I can’t really bring myself to make something as small as a regular Bitter. As I’m not a huge fan of UK hops and don’t have many British grains on hand, I’m going to make a twist on this as an American Bitter. I’ll be using Centennial hops, some Caramel 60L and 120L, and American Ale yeast (California Ale V yeast – as it’ll be slightly more true to the English yeasts that are typically used in this style). I’m hoping that this beer will be nice and refreshing for those hot summer days.

In other news, Requiem’s Rollercoaster is on tap and should be reviewed in the next few days. It did drop a few more points to 1.014 which is pretty close to what I was expecting. Also, Mooney Stars IPA is ready for the keg, but I need to clean the keg for it

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May’s Multiple Mashing With Merge

I’m falling behind here and it’s only the third month of this project – these house projects and my job are getting in the way of brewing. I’ll have to do something about that.

This month’s “Mashing With Merge” purchase is actually purchases.

The first purchase for this month was Superchunk’s reissue of Here’s Where the Strings Come In. While this album is not my favorite of their’s, it’s still a quality album. Also, this reissue (released for Record Store Day) comes with a few extra tracks and an additional download of The Clambakes Volume 5: Cup of Clams. Seeing as I have pretty much everything else released by Superchunk, except the two other reissues (that’s a hint to the only regular reader of this blog), I thought it was a good purchase.

My second purchase of this month was East River Pipe’s latest release We Live in Rented Rooms. I was intrigued by the story of F.M. Cornog – recovering drug addict, Home Depot employee, Merge Records recording artist. Additionally, this album received decent reviews and the listens I got off the intertubes sound good.

Well, it’s a good thing that I have two beers to brew this month. I’ve got a couple recipes up my sleeve that I hope these albums will help mold.

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A Mooney Brew Day

So, I actually brewed this beer a week ago. I didn’t post it because the weather has been too nice and the brewery (aka garage) needed a clean up (still ongoing) and the yard needs some massive clean up due to that nasty ice storm we had this winter.

Anyway, the brew day really wasn’t revolutionary or noteworthy. I mashed in at 152F with the Simpsons Golden Promise malt crushed on my newly renovated malt mill.

I had a couple of brew assistants since the weather was so nice.

The biggest issue with the brew day was the 8 oz of leaf hops in the kettle that clogged my dip tube. I eventually got so fed up waiting for it to drain that I just dumped the whole kettle into the fermenter. I’ll have to careful about the transfer so that all those hops are left behind. It did smell absolutely delicious during the boil and the fermentation, which it has been doing for about a week at 62F. I’ll probably keg it in another week or so and I just had another position open in my kegerator, so I’m ready to taste this one.

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Mooney Stars IPA

I received Butterglory Crumble a couple weeks ago and have not stopped listening to it since. I love the hooks and melody that they get with their simplistic set up of just a guitar and small drum set. They keep the songs short (not a single song runs longer than 3:30), but they are long enough to catch you singing along to the chorus. The album starts off right with the upbeat and pop-tastic “Waiting On The Guns.”  The Sonic Youth-esque “Summer’s Torn” displays the melodic abilities of Butterglory with the simple drums, Debby’s inaffectual voice and strumming guitar. The real star of this album, in my opinion, is “Jinxed” with it’s melodic guitar and rhythm that matches so well with the singing of Matt Suggs, but then moves into the noise of distortion. It really intertwines the pop hooks with the rock foundation of this album. I’m glad I got this album to complete my Butterglory library because it is my second favorite album of their’s behind Downed.

As I mentioned before, I had already thought about what the recipe would be for this “Mashing with Merge” brew. I decided that since Butterglory can make great music with a simple set up that I should be able to make a great beer with a simple set up. Based on this, I am doing a SMaSH (single malt, single hop) brew. I went with Simpsons Golden Promise malt as my single malt so that I will get some nice malty flavors and aroma. The single hop I chose are Citra because I love the strong citrus and resin-y hoppiness these produce. I said that I was going to put an interesting twist on this simple set and that twist is that I am going to hopburst this beer with 7 ounces of hops going into this brew but all at 15 minutes or later in the boil. The only ounce that is being added before this time is an ounce of first wort hops, but I’m not adding anything in the 60-20 minute time in the boil. This creates a “burst” of hop flavors and aroma with mild bitterness. Between the maltiness of the Golden Promise and the dank hoppiness of the Citra hops bursting through the flavor and aroma is making me really excited to brew this beer. As for the yeast, there really is nothing interesting as I’m just going to use White Labs 001 California Ale yeast. Just as the Pacific Ale yeast was a shout out to M. Ward’s Pacific NW roots, I’m going to claim that California Ale yeast is a shout out to Butterglory’s (well, Matt Suggs) California roots. It also helps that I was looking for a nice neutral yeast that would allow the malt and hops to shine in this beer.

I know I have not updated the progress of Requiem’s Rollercoaster, but it’s kegged – just waiting for a tap to open on the kegerator. It was 1.022 when I transferred it, but I’ve left it in the keg for a few weeks in the basement hoping that it will drop a few more points.

Well, I doubt my “Mooney Stars IPA” will garner as much attention as Requiem’s Rollercoaster did when I posted recipe, but I guess there’s not much post-apocalyptic demise in the “Mooney Stars IPA” name.