It’s Been a Long, Long Summer

Oktoberfest
Oktoberfest

Sometimes life just wears you down.  Beer helps, but it doesn’t help you get any of that time back.  Here’s a quick summary of my beer-related life over the summer:

  • June 15-23 – Vacation to California, where we traveled to San Francisco and Los Angeles.  It was the first time I have had any Russian River beers, and I see why they score so high.  I tried the gambit of the specials, like
    • Pliny the Elder
    • Damnation
    • Supplication
    • Consecration
    • Redemption
  • July 4th weekend – brewed several beers, including two sours: a Tart of Darkness clone, and an Oud Bruin, both of which turned out great (they were put in bottles a few weeks ago)
  • July 11 – Had a Monk’s Cafe Flemish Red at Monk’s Cafe in Philadelphia.  Need I say more?
  • September 4 – Enjoyed Sweet Baby Jesus from DuClaw Brewing for the first time in Washington D.C. – A peanut butter porter.  It was pretty tasty.
Dan Carey hard at work
Dan Carey hard at work
  • September 28 – Iowa City’s Northside Oktoberfest – the event was rainy, so there wasn’t a lot of room for everyone under the tent.  New rules put in place by the state made the event less fun.  The biggest issue with this year’s event was the 1 oz samples for several of the premium beers were 5 or 6 tickets (at 50 cents per ticket).  Does this mean that the entire 20 ounce bottle is worth $50?  No, it isn’t, so I would appreciate equalizing the ticket per sample price to be more reasonable based on the bottle price.
  • October 4 – Oktoberfest at Millstream Brewing – delicious beer at a cool place.
  • October 15 – Hit up a place in Santa Monica (West 4th and Jane) that earned me a Founder’s Badge on untappd.  Maybe not cool for you, but it was for me.
  • November 16 – Took the 3 hour trek with a couple friends to New Glarus Brewing in Wisconsin.  We took the “tour”, and had the guide explain a bit more about the brewery.  The coolest part of the trip was we saw Dan Carey, the brewmaster, sipping on several different Thumbprint series beers in the QA Lab.  He waved at our group (since they were like fish in a fishbowl), and just a small part of me wanted him to step out for a photo op.  We creepily stalked him for a while before we packed up our beer and left.
  • And, pretty much the whole fall we tailgated with the crew, the Keg Totem at each home game.
  • Oh, and remember the Brew-B-Q?  We plan on having some of the barleywine we brewed at our upcoming holiday party.  It ended up being 12%, and has been aging since then.

How was your summer?  Any great stories to tell?  Let me know!

 

Building a Keg Totem

After last year’s tailgating season, my friends and I started brainstorming ways to pay tribute to our game-day homebrew.  Slowly our ideas grew from a tap attached to a board sunk into the ground, to a way to contain the homebrew and dispense the beer.  After the Big Ten college football conference gained a member and divided into two divisions, the Legends (which the Iowa Hawkeyes are in) and the Leaders division, we decided to create a ‘totem’ pole that could hold two homebrew 5 gallon soda kegs, one stacked on top of the other.

Once we decided on our idea, the design was next.  What should we make it from?  How do we engineer it to dispense the homebrew?  After one of our designer friends took the idea and ran with it, we came up with the idea to use 12-inch diameter concrete forms.  Two of the tubes are 8 foot tall, and all it took was some engineering to make it all work.  The bottom tube is secured with 6-inch L-brackets with removable bolts.  The top section has long beams that are secured with bolts, and has a notched hole-less peg board for wings of the top figure.  The bottom section contains two gas lines, one for each keg, and the top section has two beer lines, hooking up to tower-style shanks.  After several months of planning and design, we unveiled the keg totem at opening day weekend!

The Concrete Forms, Before Painting
The Concrete Forms, Before Painting
Full Mockup
Full Mockup
Primed Tubes
Primed Tubes
Applying the First Coat of Paint
Applying the First Coat of Paint
Bottom of the Totem After the First Coat
Bottom of the Totem After the First Coat
Sizing Up the Wings
Sizing Up the Wings
Completed Totem
Completed Totem
Set Up at the Tailgate
Set Up at the Tailgate
The Inaugural Pour
The Inaugural Pour

Tailgating With Homebrew – Part 2

Friends Tailgating with Homebrew
Friends Tailgating with Homebrew

With college football season nearing the end of the season, we take a look back and reflect on how the season went.  On the field, things didn’t turn out exactly the way we had hoped, but at least we had a great time tailgating.

This year, we got together every Saturday with our friends, just like last year, and had lots of food with homebrew.  Three of us divided up the weeks for home games, and made up a batch for each week to bring to the tailgate.

Some of the different beers we made included a saison, a honey red ale, an Oktoberfest, a trippel, and a Boston lager clone.  Each of these beers went very well with the smoked pork shoulders, homemade pretzels, and other food we had.

Here’s the best part: at one point during the season, we started designing a “homebrew keg totem”.  Although it never materialized, by next year, we should have it built and ready to go.  The design is a twelve-inch diameter PVC pipe, 5 to 6 foot high (which isn’t easy to find).  It has two beer taps, and on the back, there’s a post to connect the carbon dioxide tank.  It will look like our school mascot, and going to dispense our delicious homebrew.

What’s your favorite tailgating beer?  Have you made or had homebrew for tailgating?  Let me know!

Tailgating with Homebrew

Tailgating with Homebrew
Tailgating with Homebrew

Since becoming homebrewers almost two years ago, my friends and I have found every reason to have home-made beer at events.  Get-togethers, parties, you name it, and we would have homebrew.

This never was more true than this past Iowa Hawkeyes football season.  At the beginning of the season, two of my friends and I decided to create and keg a 5 gallon batch for every Hawkeye home game instead of the regular old tailgate beer (yuck).

There were seven home games, so we decided to split it up that I would brew three batches, and my two friends would each brew two.

We already knew how to make the beer, and we had the 5 gallon soda kegs, so all we needed were the “extras” to make it perfect.  We used our carbon dioxide tanks and regulators to push the beer, and we purchased a picnic-style tap to dispense the beer.  To make the beer stay cold, we bought a “Keglove“, which is a neoprene sleeve that houses an ice blanket.  This sleeve fit  over the soda keg, and kept the beer cold for several hours.

Because the University of Iowa doesn’t allow kegs, even 5 gallon kegs for responsible parties, we needed to find a location off-campus to do our tailgating.  Luckily, we found a nice spot not far from the campus.

Over the course of the year, we had several styles of beer: an Irish red, a porter, an IPA, an English bitter, and a “breakfast” stout (coffee, oatmeal, and chocolate).  Needless to say, all the people in our group always finished the keg before the game, and we had a great time.