Breakpoint Brewery

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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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Hop Update

It’s been cold here. Like February cold. But it’s May.

The hops though have been growing quite well despite this cold weather.

I think these are my Cascade hops, though they may be the Pride of Ringwood, since I don’t have a map of my plantings last year.

Or these are Pride of Ringwoods….or Cascades….need to find that map.

I know, though, these are my Zeus hops, followed by my Magnums.

Finally, I found a place to plant my Centennial hops that were only in a container last year.


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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.


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One Last Cold One

Well, it’s not entirely cold today, but it is dreary and rainy. Also, I’m burning the last few logs that were sitting on our back porch. Just trying to clean up and get somewhat ready for spring.

Since, we’re cleaning up some of our winter stuff, I decided that tonight would be a good night to finish off a winter beer. Not that Imperial Stouts are solely relegated to winter by some legal agreements, but that is when I like to drink them, so I broke open New Holland’s Night Tripper. I bought this beer probably about a year ago, but I’ve stored it in my kegerator for that time which means it wasn’t really aging because it was kept cold that whole time.

This is a decent beer, but may have finished a little too high. I know Imperial Stouts can have this issue due to the use of crystal/caramel malts in the beer. It does have a nice clean nose of hops, but there is a prominent sweetness from the beer. There’s significant raisin and prune flavors in this beer. It’s a decent beer, but I’d prefer it to be a little more attenuated and to have a stronger hop presence.

I’d like to brew my own Imperial Stout in the next few months for Christmas presents, especially since I’ve a unique idea about the presentation. May 7th is coming up, but I think I’m going to shoot for a Barleywine on that big beer brew day. Hopefully, I’ll be able to brew the Imperial Stout shortly afterwards because I’d love to hand out both during the holidays.

As per my “Mashing with Merge” beer from my Butterglory purchase, well, that post is in the works. I already have the ingredients and the brew plan, but I haven’t had the time to post it to the blog. It’ll be up shortly, probably this weekend, so stay tuned (all 2 of you).

Also, now the weather is getting perfect for brewing and with the little one on the way, I need to brew boatloads of beer in the next few months.


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Our Proud Mascot

So, it’s the first of the month which means its time to order my next Merge CD – even if it is the April 1st. I’m still playing it safe on this purchase with Butterglory’s Crumble.

I have all of Butterglory’s other albums and I saw them in concert right after Crumble was released. They opened for Superchunk and immediately my friend and I were struck by how simple, yet hook-y their songs were. I bought him the CD for his birthday which was shortly after that show. Unfortunately, that was back in the day before iTunes and CD copiers, though this is a CD that I would still purchase because Butterglory and Merge deserve every cent for this album.

Well, I’ve kind of already thought up the recipe for this beer and I should have the ingredients coming my way right about now. Look for a post in a couple of days with some actual notes on that specific recipe, but know that it’ll be an interesting twist on a simple beer.