October 2011 Group Brew – Traditional Porter

The PALE ALES are planning to hold a group brew event in October 2011 where all members would brew a traditional English porter. Several members have invested a lot of time and energy into this, and we are hoping that you will find this as exciting as we do! If you have a minute, please read over the information below and respond to this post to let us know if you are interested. Also, if you have any questions, suggestions, or comments, please post those as well. Unfortunately, you’ll have to register an account on this site first, it’s the only way we can effectively keep out spammers. Thanks!

A traditional porter varies in several ways from the modern porter described in the BJCP guidelines. As Clay Spence discussed at the Saison meeting, the main difference is that “brown malts” were used as the base malt. These malts were kilned more than pale malts. Because of the extra kilning, they do not yield as much fermentable sugar. So, Clay’s test batch (85% brown malt, 15% six-row) which some of us tasted at the Saison meeting had an original gravity of ~1.070, and a final gravity of ~1.040. The taste was very full bodied – even a bit like a milkshake. But, obviously it was not very high in alcohol. Al from East Coast Yeast did a batch also, and his came out a bit higher ABV. Ryan Hansen is experimenting with using brettanomyces bacteria to help the yeast convert more of the sugars.

To participate in the October 2011 group brew, members will choose from one of two options. The first option which we encourage everyone to try out is to malting the grains yourself! Several members, including Joe Bair, Marc Leckington, and Ryan have been experimenting with this and will provide instructions for how to malt-your-own! There are 5 steps: steeping, germinating, drying, kilning, and mellowing. The entire process takes approximately 24 days, so it is not for the weak and lazy among us. For those people (like myself), the second option is to order a mix of modern malts that approximates the traditional recipe. To find out more information about the malting process, check out the Princeton Homebrew Facebook page.

Another difference between this group brew and the recent Big Brew is that it won’t be a single event where everyone meets up together. Instead, there would be “satellite” brews where several members in a given area meet up at someone’s house and brew together. This is a great chance to expand your brewing skills and try something new!

POLL (respond by commenting on this post)

1. I am interested in the malt-your-own traditional porter recipe.
2. I am interested in the modern malt recipe.
3. I am not interested in or able to participate this time.

Saison Style Meeting Recap

Many thanks to Paul Corkery and his wife Robin for hosting us at their home. The grill was cranking out some great food and the corn was easily the best I have had so far this year. Good thing we had some beer to wash it all down!

We had about 30 folks in attendance when we called the meeting to order at 7:30 (including 3 new members).  Before diving in the style discussion, we talked a bit about some ideas we have been working on for an October Big Brew. Clay Spence gave us a little history about the beer we are trying to replicate — a historical porter from the 18th Century. The basic concept is to use a ton of brown malt and create a beer with a very high finishing gravity, but a very low ABV. This creates a beer with a velvety mouth feel that is 2nd to none. Our original plan was to malt all of the grain ourselves using solar power. But after germinating a test batch of 9 lbs of barley, we quickly realized that this is a huge undertaking with wide variety of points of failure. The slightest mistake in the germination phase might result in a 5 gallon batch of vinegar. But, it was the horrid smell of the germinating grain was the final nail in the coffin on that idea. Instead, we may malt some of the specialty grains used in the batch. More details on the Big Brew will come out as we get closer. Meanwhile, you can follow the malting experiment at the Princeton Homebrew Facebook Page. For now, hold October 22 on your calendar.

Ryan Hansen, PALE ALES VP, kicked off the style portion of the meeting with some history of the saison style as we tried some craft brewed varieties, including a skunked Saison Dupont Avril (3.5%), the Saison Dupont (regular), and Fantome. There were at least a dozen homebrewed saisons being passed around too. Al Buck, Chief Yeast Propagator at East Coast Yeast, was on hand to sample beers and provide feedback.

Be sure to check out the Club Calendar for the latest details on upcoming meetings. Thanks for the great photos, Dawn!

June Meeting Recap: We All Had a Golden Ticket

Ed “Willie Wonka” Goracy of Hub City was an amazing host last night. Not only did we get to tour one of the largest beer warehouses in the State (Great Wall of Coors by Kate), but we got to try some really special beers. I was incorrect in my email yesterday about which “deconstruction” beer we were tasting. Turns out Sam Adams released an entire series called Deconstructed. Its is basically the Latitude 48 IPA recipe brewed with different hops resulting in six entirely different tasting beers — one hop in each beer. It was a great way to isolate the different hop varieties! When a guy that runs a warehouse with 18 tractor trailer deliveries a day tells you that you got the last case, you know you got something very special. Thanks, Ed! And the Longshot series was really good too. Well, the lavender beer got a few grimaces from the rooom, but the belgian style IPA and blackened hop beers were both crowd pleasers. Definitely worth trying to find a sixpack if you didn’t join us last night. In total, I think we had about 35 folks in attendance with at least 5 first-timers.

Thanks, Dawn for all that great pics!

May 2011 Update

Greetings Homebrewers!

It’s an honor to be given the chance to take the helm of PALE ALES. The Board and I are very excited about picking up on the ongoing initiatives and seeing them through as well as starting a few new ones of our own. But before I go on, I’d like to publicly acknowledge and thank Kevin Trayner for serving as the group’s President for the past five years — including two “dark years” where Princeton Homebrew was closed (and ingredients were hard to come by). Kudos, Kevin! I’m grateful that Kevin has agreed to stay on the Board to help with the transition and motivate us with his enthusiasm for all things beer!

I’m happy to announce PALE ALES is back on a monthly meeting schedule! We will be meeting on the 2nd Monday of each month. Check the Calendar page for the latest.

Happy Brewing!
Marc Leckington

Big Brew 2011 Recap & Picture Gallery

One of our biggest and best Big Brews so far! We brewed over 125 gallons of beer with a mix of over 20 brewers. Saw quite a few visitors, lots of great beer and food, and a few new members; not to mention the backdraft flare from a propane burner (mine actually), and a few 6-foot electrical arcs from the overhead powerline.

We had a toast later on from the club’s first Big Brew, Strong Ale of 14-15 years in age, provided by Prof. Steve Rowley. Pretty darn tasty! I look forward to sampling this Big Brew, made exclusively with East Coast yeast – mostly ECY08 Saison Brasserie blend.

Speaking of yeast, Al and Nina Buck proprietors of EC Yeast showed up personally to deliver the yeast. Note – the optimum temp range for the yeast is 75-85 deg. Personally, I would have to say this was one of the most active yeasts I have ever seen at a Big Brew. Bubbling like crazy in an hour or so – most remarkable as it was in my basement at 70 deg. (I have moved it upstairs since – didn’t realize how chill it was). Al and Nina whatever you are feeding them, keep it up.

If anyone wants to pass along data about their batch to East Coast Yeast, Joe (joe@solarhomebrew) would be happy to collect them. For the info to be useful, Joe needs mash temp, OG, FG and fermentation temp.

— Kevin Trayner

Charlie Papazian Meets with PALE ALES

Charlie Papazian, the Godfather of all things homebrew, came out to a PALE ALES meeting in 2000. Here’s an excerpt from the May 2000 issue of the PALE ALES newsletter recapping the visit:

Charlie Papazian, homebrewing guru, kicked off his East Coast tour in Princeton this past April 8th at the Susan Paterson Center in Princeton. No surprise that it was one of the biggest events hosted by the club, with close to 90 people in attendance.

Charlie regaled attendees with many humorous stories about homebrewing. Some that stick out:

* Charlie had been using this Lager yeast for over ten years to make all of these great eclectic beers. He had gotten the yeast from someone at Coors, but never knew what it was. It turned out after many years the strain was identified (by the id number on the vessel), and he found that he was fermenting Budweiser!!!

* Charlie mentioned that in many blind taste tests of local American beers verses big name imports, that the American beers typically always win. Of course, when the labels are visible, the opposite result occurs. As he put it “We drink with our eyes.”

* In early brewing days, Charlie had fashioned his brewing recipes
for 13 gallon batches, an odd size. Someone had asked him – “Why 13 gallons Charlie?”. His response “That’s the most beer you can fit in a trash can!”

* Some insights into Charlie’s first batches of beer (many of which
were quite undrinkable!) – he used baker’s yeast and cane sugar, and he stirred with his hand.

* Other words of wisdom – Support your local homebrewer. Buy good ingredients. Relax, have a homebrew.

This was my first encounter with Charlie and I found him humorous, honest, friendly, and laid back – in short, very much into the spirit of the event and homebrewing. (Myself and half a dozen PALE ALES members also joined Charlie and wife Sandra for dinner at Triumph prior to the event.) Charlie chatted with whoever approached him and of course signed many a book that evening.

After Charlie’s talk, people mingled, drank and ate, and we held the
BYHB, with ten people moving on.

Speaking of food and beer, both were plentiful and excellent. Stouts, bitters, Stickebier, pale ales and many others mingled with many exotic food offerings from club members. (Maybe, we should have something like this every year – like around the Holidays). River Horse Brewery glasses signed by Papazian were given out to attendees as door prizes.

Kudos to V-P team Andrew Koontz and Laurie Harmon for finding this excellent meeting place (two fridges, free parking, a full kitchen, and lots of space!!) Also, thanks to all the volunteers who helped things run so smoothly!

The nominal admission fee of $5 covered all of the club’s expenses. Charlie’s other expenses (except dinner and cab fare) were covered by tour sponsors Crosby & Baker, White Labs, and Briess. IMHO, one of the best events yet hosted by your friendly neighborhood homebrew club – PALE ALES. Who knows maybe we will host Michael Jackson next?

Princeton and Local Environs Ale and Lager Enthusiast Society