Category Archives: News

Northern Brewer and Devil’s Gate Brewing Company bring you the official homebrew w00tstout kit

Northern Brewer and I have teamed up with Stone Brewing Company to make an official homebrew version of w00tstout!

w00tstout-homebrewThis is an official recipe for w00tstout, converted to homebrew specs with the help of Stone Brewing Company’s brewmaster, Mitch Steele. It is released with the blessing of all the collaborators, and I can’t wait to make it myself next week. It’s available in both extract and all-grain kits.

This is a huge beer, and not something I’d recommend for a first time brewer (if you’re looking to get started in homebrewing, you can get your feet wet with my #VandalEyesPA 1-gallon kit).

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Devil’s Gate and Northern Brewer Team Up To Bring You #VandalEyesPA!

Wil Wheaton joins Northern Brewer

I’m super excited to announce this today, because it’s one of those things that’s been in the works for almost a year, but I had to keep secret.

I’ve partnered with Northern Brewer to design and release some homebrew recipe kits this year (and hopefully beyond, if people like them enough).
Some of the marketing language in the announcement is a little much (I don’t think I’m a master brewer, yet), but I love how excited and enthusiastic everyone at Northern Brewer is to work together with me.

Our first kit is the #VandalEyesPA that I designed for my wife,  about a year ago. It’s a big IPA with lots of hops aroma, but a big caramel malt backbone to balance it out. Think of it as an IPA that drinks like a double IPA, I guess. It’s available in extract and all-grain versions.

As the year goes on, I’ll release more kits. I’m thinking about doing a sage saison, a coffee stout, a nice pale ale, and maybe a #w00tstout clone.
I’ll keep blogging about my homebrewing adventures right here at devilsgatebrewing.com, and when you make these for yourself, you can even check in on Untappd because I’ve been entering Devil’s Gate brews there since I started almost three years ago.

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Progress Report: Smashing Pumpkin Ale

About two weeks ago, my friends Bobak and Rileah came over to help me make the Smashing Pumpkin Ale from Northern Brewer. I’ve made it before, but this was their very first time homebrewing, so I got to talk them through the whole experience, teach them a little bit about brewing science, and spend an afternoon with two people I really like.

I’ll have an entirely separate post about that brewday soon, including tons of great pictures. Until then, here’s a progress report:

Smashing Pumpkin Hydrometer

Our target OG was 1.054, which we hit on the nose. I was hoping that we’d be able to get it down to around 1.012 or so, but while I was in Texas doing some shows, the yeast (US-05) went nuts, and as you can see here, it fermented all the way down to 1.010. Beersmith tells me that this will give us an ABV of about 5.8%, and an ADT of about 80%. I have to tell you, I’m more and more in love with dry yeast each time I use it. I’ve done starters with White Labs and Wyeast, and I’ve never gotten the kind of ADT I’ve been getting from Safale and Danstar.

There’s a bit of haze in this sample, but it tastes really great and has a wonderful orange colour that isn’t coming across in the photo. I roasted a 10 pound pumpkin and put its flesh into the mash this year, and it seems to have made quite a difference. Last year, I didn’t use any squash (and made the extract version), and it wasn’t very good. I ended up dumping most of it. This year, though, we went all-grain, and it’s looking like we’re going to have a really tasty pumpkin ale.

 

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Pro-Am contest results and other news

My entry in the Golden Road Pro-Am competition was not selected to go to the second round, which did not surprise me. It’s not the best beer I’ve ever made, and there were a number of problems with the process. If I had to do it all again, I’d probably go extract or partial mash, and instead of focusing on just one hop like I did, I’d go ahead and use some other hops for bittering. It scored an average of 31 on the judges forms, which isn’t bad, and the feedback I got was very useful. I learned a lot from the experience, and it really was a whole lot of fun, and I can’t wait to enter more beers into more competitions.

I went on a buying bonanza recently, and took advantage of some sales at Northern Brewer. If you want to see what’s in my queue, it’s in the sticky at the top of the main page. A couple of days ago, I brewed their Dead Ringer IPA, partially because Anne and I love IPAs, but mostly because I harvested a bunch of yeast from Batch 31 (which finished a little sweet at about 5%, but tastes amazing and is on draft in my office right now) and I wanted to repitch it into something new. Dead Ringer calls for US05 or 1056, but my yeast was harvested WLP001, so that’s what I used. I’m pretty excited to see how it turns out, since it should theoretically be comfortable with my water and brewhouse conditions. It’s also the first time I’ve used an aerator, which was pretty neat, and the shortest lag I’ve ever had, right about 2 hours.

I was hoping to celebrate today’s Big Brew Day by making a Saison this afternoon, but it’s also Free Comic Book Day, and I don’t think there’s going to be time, so I’ll celebrate it tomorrow. For the first time this year, I’m hoping it stays warm so I can really let that Saison yeast go nuts at 80+°.

I also bought myself a three-keg draft system that will be delivered on Monday. I can not begin to describe how excited I am to have multiple homebrews on tap to share with my friends!

Finally, I found a really great guide for new homebrewers at Homebrew Finds that I wanted to share with the world.

Happy Homebrewing, everyone!

 

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It’s a stand up Tripel!

Last night, I opened the first bottle of the Carmelite Triple Grain Tripel I made to celebrate the end of the world last year. It’s absolutely sensational, and one of the best beers I’ve ever made. Its color and clarity exceeded my expectations, and the balance of yeast esters and alcohol warmth is delightful. I can tell that it probably wants another week or so to condition the alcohol and smooth it out a bit, and when that happens … boy, it’s going to be challenging to not just dive into the whole thing and go to town. I kind of wish there was a competition I could enter it in, just so I can get some feedback from someone with BJCP. If you have the patience to make it and let it condition for two months, I highly recommend it.

Speaking of competitions, in the next few days I’m going to deliver my Patient Zero Pale Ale to Golden Road for the pro-am competition. I went ahead and kegged the portion that I thought was infected (but hoped was okay) and … well, I’m not entirely sure what’s going on with it. There’s definitely something a little off, but it isn’t ruined. In fact, I’m going to brew it again and make sure that it stays healthy, because I believe the recipe is solid. I’m really glad that I did the dry-hopped gallon, because I opened a bottle of that last night and OH MY GOD SWEET HOPPY JESUS IS IT GOOD. The hop aroma is just magnificent (and makes me think that the mystery hop is some kind of New Zealand Cascade), even if it’s just a little bit too much. I used 3/4 of an ounce for the gallon, and if I did it again, I’d probably pull that back to 1/2 or so, just so that it doesn’t overwhelm the malt profile. Still, it’s a great beer and even if I don’t make it past the first round, it’s something I’ll be brewing again (dry-hopped and not).

In the next day or so, I’ll be racking my Pliny the Elder clone (which I call Pompey the Great — bonus points if you can figure out why) to secondary for five freaking ounces of dry hops. I lifted the lid of the fermenter when I moved it to my racking station (kitchen counter) and it looks and smells great. I’m really excited about that.

Finally, the Mystery Parti-gyle just isn’t working out. It’s way too bitter for the malt profile, and it has this bready, doughy taste underneath the bitterness that I just don’t like. If it was the 17th century and we needed it for survival, I’d keep it, but life’s too short in these modren times to drink crummy beer, even if it’s beer you made yourself. So that’s going to the Land of Wind and Ghosts as soon as I need the keg. Oh well. I did learn a lot from that whole experience, so it wasn’t entirely wasted.

Cheers!

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infect (?) me with your love

About a week ago, I racked my Golden Road Pro-Am Mystery Hop Beer (tentatively called Rule 34) to secondary. I also pulled one gallon out of the five into a smaller carboy and dry-hopped with 3/4 ounce of the mystery hop, just to see how that would taste. The competition instructions encouraged us to feature the hops, and I thought that was a worthy experiment.

This morning, while preparing to bottle both brews, I discovered what looked like an ugly infection on the surface of the large carboy:

Infected(?) Beer

Gross.

It looks pretty nasty, and I had a big old sad.

Luckily, the dry-hopped gallon is fine and healthy, so I think that’s what I’ll submit into the contest.

But here’s the thing: I popped the airlock out of the carboy and took a big smell (Thinly rolling for a Smell Check and getting a critical success). It didn’t smell sour or gross or off at all. Intrigued, I pulled a few ounces into a glass (using massively sanitized equipment, of course) and tasted it. It didn’t taste weird to me at all, so I asked Anne to taste it, and she also thought it tasted fine.

So I suppose it’s possible that what I thought was an infection is actually something yeasty that looks bad (there is a big, ugly whitish bubble on top, which is what really makes me nervous) but isn’t a problem. If it is infected, I’m worried about bottle bombs, so I decided to keg that four-ish gallons and let it naturally carbonate right up until it’s time to submit my bottles. I’ll use my beer gun to bottle some, and then make a decision about submitting the dry-hopped version or this one. At the very least, I’ll submit the dry-hopped version and hope for the best.

And if the infected(?) batch is drinkable, I’m calling it Patient Zero Pale Ale.

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I’m in Golden Road Brewing’s Pro-Am Contest!

The Golden Road Brewery selected 42 homebrewers to participate in a competition that will send the winner to the Great American Beer Festival in the Pro-Am competition. I am lucky enough to be one of the 42!

All of us got a big bag of mystery hops. All we know is that they are 7.8%AA, and smell pretty great. I got a very clean, almost noble aroma, but my brother got a piney aroma, so that doesn’t exactly help narrow down the origin. To be honest, though, I kind of like that it’s just a mystery.

So we’re charged with making a beer within the competition guidelines using these hops, and submitting finished bottles by the end of March. Four of the submissions will be brewed on their pilot system, and one of the four will be declared the winner.

Because I don’t have a whole lot of time to get something conditioned and ready to drink, and because the hops are 7.8%AA, I was immediately limited , which was a good thing; creativity comes from limitation! I kicked around a few ideas, and decided to make an American Pale Ale, which I thought would let the hops come through, and which should be ready to drink faster than, say, a Saison or a Brown.

Here’s my first pass at the recipe:

BeerSmith 2 Recipe Printout - http://www.beersmith.com
Recipe: Golden Road Pro-Am Pale
Brewer: Wil Wheaton
Asst Brewer: 
Style: American Pale Ale
TYPE: All Grain
Taste: (30.0)
Recipe Specifications
--------------------------
Boil Size: 6.52 gal
Post Boil Volume: 5.98 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.00 gal 
Bottling Volume: 5.13 gal
Estimated OG: 1.055 SG
Estimated Color: 10.8 SRM
Estimated IBU: 38.6 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 80.5 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes
Ingredients:
------------
Amt Name Type # %/IBU 
9 lbs 0.7 oz Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 2 83.0 % 
1 lbs 1.0 oz Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L (60.0 SRM) Grain 3 9.8 % 
8.5 oz Wheat Malt, Ger (2.0 SRM) Grain 4 4.9 % 
4.0 oz Caramel/Crystal Malt - 80L (80.0 SRM) Grain 5 2.3 % 
0.86 oz Mystery Hop [7.80 %] - Boil 60.0 min Hop 6 22.4 IBUs 
0.43 oz Mystery Hop [7.80 %] - Boil 30.0 min Hop 7 8.6 IBUs 
0.22 oz Mystery Hop [7.80 %] - Boil 15.0 min Hop 8 2.8 IBUs 
0.93 oz Mystery Hop [7.80 %] - Boil 5.0 min Hop 9 4.8 IBUs 
1.0 pkg American Ale (Wyeast Labs #1056) [124.21 Yeast 10 -
Mash Schedule: Temperature Mash, 2 Step, Full Body
Total Grain Weight: 10 lbs 14.2 oz
----------------------------
Name Description Step Temperat Step Time 
Protein Rest Add 13.61 qt of water at 129.3 F 122.0 F 30 min 
Saccharification Heat to 156.0 F over 15 min 156.0 F 30 min 
Mash Out Heat to 168.0 F over 10 min 168.0 F 10 min
Sparge: Fly sparge with 4.67 gal water at 168.0 F
Created with BeerSmith 2 - http://www.beersmith.com
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I’m probably going to tweak this a little bit, and maybe simplify. I may take out the wheat entirely and just up the C60 a tiny bit, or mix in some C40. At the moment, it’s going to end up right in the middle of the style guideline, and I want to preserve that.  I may also change the mash to a single infusion, just to eliminate one more place where I can screw up.

This will be my first ever competition, and I’m really excited. Even if I don’t get past the first round, I’ll probably learn a whole lot of things.

UPDATED: I asked John Palmer, who I met last night at the Beer Blogger’s thing at Chloe’s at the Pub at Golden Road (wow, that’s a lot of nested ats), for some feedback and comments on my recipe. He gave me some great notes and suggestions, so I have modified the recipe thusly:

BeerSmith 2 Recipe Printout - http://www.beersmith.com
Recipe: Golden Road Pro-Am Pale
Brewer: Wil Wheaton
Asst Brewer: 
Style: American Pale Ale
TYPE: All Grain
Taste: (30.0)
Recipe Specifications
--------------------------
Boil Size: 6.52 gal
Post Boil Volume: 5.98 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.00 gal 
Bottling Volume: 5.13 gal
Estimated OG: 1.055 SG
Estimated Color: 7.2 SRM
Estimated IBU: 43.5 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 80.5 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes
Ingredients:
------------
Amt Name Type # %/IBU 
9 lbs 0.7 oz Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 2 83.8 % 
1 lbs Wheat Malt, Ger (2.0 SRM) Grain 3 9.3 % 
4.0 oz Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L (60.0 SRM) Grain 4 2.3 % 
4.0 oz Caramel/Crystal Malt - 80L (80.0 SRM) Grain 5 2.3 % 
4.0 oz Munich Malt - 10L (10.0 SRM) Grain 6 2.3 % 
0.85 oz Mystery Hop [7.80 %] - Boil 60.0 min Hop 7 22.1 IBUs 
0.70 oz Mystery Hop [7.80 %] - Boil 20.0 min Hop 8 11.0 IBUs 
1.00 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 mins) Fining 9 - 
2.00 oz Mystery Hop [7.80 %] - Boil 5.0 min Hop 10 10.4 IBUs 
1.0 pkg American Ale (Wyeast Labs #1056) [124.21 Yeast 11 -
Mash Schedule: Simple Mash
Total Grain Weight: 10 lbs 12.7 oz
----------------------------
Name Description Step Temperat Step Time 
Strike Add 13.49 qt of water and heat to 145.0 145.0 F 30 min 
Infusion Add 7.56 qt of water at 184.6 F 158.0 F 30 min
Sparge: Fly sparge with 2.80 gal water at 168.0 F

Created with BeerSmith 2 - http://www.beersmith.com
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I’m pretty sure this is what I’m going to brew on Sunday. If you want to do it at the same time and see how our things turn out, let me know in email, or just chime in when I’m live-brewing on Twitter. That might be fun and awesome. I can convert this to extract, if anyone wants that.

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Update on the Parti-gyle Mystery Ale

A couple days ago, I drew a sample to see how fermentation was going, and to get a sense of this particular beer’s flavour.

It has a very light body, extremely pale colour, and a whole lot of hop bitterness. Based on my hydrometer readings and knowledge of BJCP guidelines, I’m going to go ahead and declare that this is a proper English Bitter. It isn’t bad, and exhibits potential to be a satisfying session beer.

This will likely be racked to a secondary in a few days (as soon as one of my two become available; I have a Tripel in one and a Pale in the other) and given a week or so to clear. It’s probably going to end up in a keg, so if it’s just not worth drinking, I don’t have to deal with two cases of bottles that need to be given a Viking funeral.

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Current homebrews

 

A pint of #VandalEyesPA

On tap:

  • Nothing at the moment

In bottles:

  • No Quarter Honey Sage Seasonal

Click to expand. Continue reading

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