Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Novemberfest preview!!!

This year Leah and I brewed an unprecedented FOUR beers for our Novemberfest party. That's right. Twenty gallons. Two hundred thirteen 12-oz. servings. One hundred thirty three pints for you Brits. For the Bavarians in the audience, that's only seventy six Maß (sorry). Even cooler is that two of the beers have won first place ribbons in homebrew competitions, one even taking Best of Show! Anyway, here's the lowdown on the beers:

Gust Front Leipzig-Style Wheat
Our take on an obscure German style called a Leipziger Gose, Gust Front is a wheat ale brewed with coriander and salt. Sound strange? Well, it's actually quite similar to Blue Moon, and our first batch of this beer recently took Best of Show out of 233 entries at the Schooner Homebrew Championship! (Don't believe me? Click here.) Light and refreshing, Gust Front Leipzig-Style Wheat clocks in at 5.0% alcohol by volume (ABV).

Nimbostratus Dunkel
"Dunkel" is German for "dark," but our Munich Dunkel is only dark compared to typical lagers... it's really more of an amber color. It's dark enough that you get some nice roasted flavor, but still light enough that you don't have to stop at just one (or two, or three...). Nimbostratus is a drinkable 5.3% ABV.

Stepleader Hefeweizen
Always a fan favorite, our hefeweizen is fermented at a lower temperature so you get a noticeable clove flavor with minimal hints of banana. No, there's not actually any clove or banana in the beer, but the unique Bavarian yeast provides a hint of such flavors. Fans of Hacker-Pschorr or even Goose Island 312 will find themselves coming back for more of our Stepleader, and at 5.0% ABV you can come back again and again.

Cloud-to-Ground Weizenbock
For those of you who like hefeweizen but wanna go bigger and darker, our weizenbock is for you. Malty, with hints of caramel and alcohol, and balanced with a banana-like aroma, our Cloud-to-Ground aims to please. And at 6.1% ABV, it'll get you off of the ground. I should also note that this beer was brewed exclusively by Leah and Marta Woloszyn for the women's-only Queen of Beer competition, and we just found out it took first place in the "Malty German Bier" category. Way to go Leah and Marta!

Feel free to drop me a line at rchibe <@t> gmail com if you have any questions about any of the beers.

Congrats to Leah and Marta, Queens of Beer!!!

More exciting news on the award front... Leah and Marta took first place in the "Malty German Bier" category of the Queen of Beer competition with our Cloud-to-Ground Weizenbock!!! That's two years in a row that Leah's placed in the competition, and her first blue ribbon. It's also Marta's first brewing award, so congrats to her!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Gust Front update

So I'll finally fill in the details regarding the Leipzig-style wheat. Basically, there were three big differences between the first batch and this one. First, I used the Brew Your Own partial mash method. Second, I used all Perle hops, though the alpha acid content is equivalent. Third, I didn't have any fresh coriander and couldn't track any down, so I had to use store-bought ground coriander. To compensate, I made additions of 1.5 oz. instead of the 1 oz. additions I made when using freshly-crushed coriander the first time. Hopefully it will still turn out okay.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Brew day: Gust Front Leipzig-Style Wheat--the sequel

Yesterday Leah and I brewed a second batch of our Best-of-Show-winning Gust Front Leipzig-Style Wheat. I'm at work so I can't type much (I'll add more later), but I just wanted to mention that the original gravity was 1048 before I forget (I didn't really keep any records yesterday; too busy!). Hopefully the fermentation lock will be bubblin' away by the time I get home!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Oktoberfest Update

Our church Oktoberfest was really fun, and there was a pretty big crowd. Lutherans do love their beer!

Check out what you missed in this video...

Holy Cross Oktoberfest on Vimeo

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Holy Cross Oktoberfest

Looking for something to do this Sunday? Swing by Holy Cross Lutheran Church for our annual Oktoberfest! We're celebrating our 120th anniversary, and what better way to celebrate than with beer and brats?

Here are the details: Holy Cross is located in the Bridgeport neighborhood of Chicago, specifically the corner of 31st Place and Racine. The Oktoberfest runs from noon to 3:00pm (FYI the church service is at 10:30am), and the price is only $10! Beer, brats, sauerkraut and more will be served (sadly the beer does not rise to the level of the HOPS! Oktoberfest party, but hey, it's only $10). There's also an authentic three-piece German band playing from 2-3pm, with a piano player accompanying lunch from noon to 1pm.

Holy Cross still held a service in German as recently as 1978 (I believe; I may be off a year or two), so you know they do Oktoberfest right!

Weizenbock update

Leah and I bottled/conditioned the keg for Leah and Marta's Cloud-to-Ground Weizenbock today. Specifically, Leah bottled three bottles for the Queen of Beer competition (priming with 1 tsp. corn sugar per bottle), and then I added 1/2 cup corn sugar to the keg to naturally condition the rest.

I took a final gravity reading for the weizenbock. It settled at 1019, which gives us a final alcohol content of 6.1%. It's a little low for a weizenbock, but as noted in our brew day post below, Leah and Marta added a little too much water to the boil (due to bad advice from me) which resulted in a lower original gravity. So think of it either as a lighter weizenbock or a heavy-duty dunkelweizen. I guess it will be a tough call for them in deciding under which category to enter the beer.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Brew day: Step Leader Hefeweizen

Beer #3 for our Novemberfest party (yes, we decided to go with Novemberfest instead of Oktoberfest because October is so busy) was brewed today. It was our extract-with-grains Step Leader Hefeweizen, always a crowd pleaser. Nothing too exciting to report; it's a pretty straightforward recipe. The only changes were we added a little bit of flavor hops and we reduced the boil to 45 minutes to keep the color light. Our original gravity was 1053.

We also kegged our Cloud-to-Ground Weizenbock, though we didn't add bottling sugar yet (first we have to bottle three bottles for the Queen of Beer competition).

Finally, I took our final gravity reading for the S.O.B. ESB. For the record, it was 1016, which gives us an ABV of 5.6%.


Just found out I passed the Bar Exam. To quote Napoleon Dynamite (yeah, I know that's so 2005): "Sssssweet!" It's almost as exciting as when we won Best Of Show.

In beer-related news, we'll be brewing our hefeweizen today. Talk about an exciting day!