What’s Brewing

What’s Brewing – Thoughts, reflections, and confessions from my little personal brewing world.

First up, how did my California Common Beer turn out?  Pretty well, I’m glad to say.  It has a very pretty amber color and excellent head retention.  The aroma and flavor are toasty, caramel malt, malt, and more malt.  There is a slight spicy/floral note from the hops.  When you take a sip, it really is impressive how clean and lager-like it tastes.  Truly a unique yeast strain.  I mean, I know what temperature I fermented the beer at.  This is a style I will definitely mess around with a couple more times.  With some tweaks, it’s a beer that could make it into the Half Batch Brewing flagship lineup.  It is definitely a hit with my ‘taste panel’.


So, up next is a re-brew of what will one day be the Half Batch Brewing American Pale Ale. Why a rebrew? Because I screwed up the last one. Well, I didn’t really screw it up. I realized at the end of fermentation that my thermometers needed some re-calibration. It turns out I was mashing about three degrees cooler than I thought. That fact, plus the super-attenuating American ale yeast I am using, ended up creating a beer that is WAY too light in body and lacking malt character. While the hop aroma and flavor profile were what I was looking for, the lack of body really made it present as tilted too far to the bitter side. So I’m having another go at it on Sunday.

Here is a picture of the sack of malt that will grow up to be five gallons of APA someday.


Since I’m brewing on Sunday, I cranked up my yeast starter on Tuesday. About 1200 ml of sterile wort, 100 billion yeast cells, and 30 minutes of sterile air – and boom! The yeast get busy and make a bunch of new babies to ferment my beer. It’s really not like some sort of yeast orgy going on in there, yeast actually reproduce by asexual budding. But you can pretend if you like.


As a commercial brewer, one of my most important goals will be consistently pitching specific cell counts. In a yeast starter like this, I know from experience that I should end up with about 180 billion cells to pitch into Sunday’s wort. It’s late Thursday night and already my roughly 180 billion yeast friends have pretty much finished up fermenting the yeast starter I fed them and are settling down to the bottom of the jug to nap until Sunday when they will be called into service again.


The Half Batch Brewing Pilot Brewing System Assistant Brewer (long job title, I know), Duke, worked really hard with me making sure we had the proper amount of happy, healthy yeast ready to go for brew day.


On another note, we had great seats for the Music City Bowl. Four rows up in the corner where the Tigers ran onto the field. Too bad the LSU defense then proceed to lay a big fat egg right in the middle of LP Field. We had fun, though. Actually tailgated with some of the California Common Beer before the game. We drug a couple of our teenagers out into the cold with us, too. If they don’t grow up to be LSU fans…well, we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.



– Nate