Thursday, May 6, 2010

Welcome, My Brewing History and Things Learned at Big Brew 2010

Hey everyone...welcome to my blog that I'm starting in which I mainly talk about homebrewing and beer drinking, but will talk about sports and music from time to time as well.

Here's a little background on me so you can get an idea of where I'm coming from.  I'm from central Massachusetts and grew up a huge sports fan.  I was born into the whole Red Sox Nation, but didn't realize how bad it was until I got older.  Beer has always been a favorite beverage of mine going back to times before when I should have legally been drinking it.  It happened, so get over it.  I like food, weather, and other science related things.  Add the science and beer drinking together and that's why I'm a homebrewer now.  As I say all the time "Homebrew is chemistry you can drink!"

Anyways, I wanted to start jotting some ideas down on homebrewing and other related things and then seeing what people had to say about it.  Here goes.....

I've been fortunate enough to be trained in homebrewing by some of the best out there.  First it started off with my friend Pete D.  I wanted to make a homebrew for my upcoming wedding and he taught me how to brew using malt extracts.  The first beer I made was "Royal Rooters IPA".  It was super hoppy and made even more hoppy by dry hopping in the keg.  It was well received by the guests who were into West Coast IPAs.  The rest thought it tasted like rubbish.  I loved it and so did some of my friends so I didn't really care what the"Coors Crowd" had to say.

Next up was a Belgian Wit with spruce tips that I fermented with raspberry puree.  Again this was made with malt extract.  I brewed this one with Pete D. and Tim K. using Pete's equipment since I didn't have any of my own.  Bottom line, this beer was a huge crowd pleaser.  It was called "Graduberry Ale" (Rob T. named it) and made in honor of my wife Manina's graduation from UMBC.  This was a fan favorite!

Then I went on hiatus. Pete moved.  I still didn't have any of my equipment.  Bottom line I got lazy.  Then I heard about an "All Grain Brewing" class at Maryland Homebrew in Spring 2009.  This was what I needed to get back into the swing of things.  Soon thereafter was the 2009 Big Brew at the Maryland Homebrew facility.  This is where I really got back into things.  I met Greg B. and Trevor C. from the homebrew club, Cross Street Irregulars (aka. CSI).  The rest is history.  I'm now the Vice President of CSI, still not brewing much, but plan a full blown attack this Spring / Summer now that I have the ultimate set of brewing tools.

So that brings me to this year's Big Brew event which happened this past weekend.  This year I showed up and brewed with Greg T. and Chris G. from CSI.  They brewed a Barleywine using an all-grain recipe, and then an E.S.B. using second runnings on the same grain bed.   It was good for me to watch because I'm still unsure of the whole "all-grain" brewing process, but I sure learned a lot.  

The most important thing I learned was just the process of sparging the grain bed.  This is the part I was most nervous about.  I didn't want to get a huge grain bill and then fumble on the sparging process.  Watching Greg and Chris reinforced what I already knew and gave me the confidence to do it on my own.  

Second thing I learned is to get a high temperature pump.  Using a pump, you don't have to rely as much on gravity, siphoning and most dangerously, trying to move around kettles with boiling hot water.  So today I received the March 809 HS Beer Pump from  I shopped around during my lunch hour the other day and found out they had the best deal at $129.  The folks are were real quick about sending my stuff over and their prices were the most reasonable on the internet.  Don't get me wrong though, support your local homebrew store, but when it comes to big purchase, the internet may be the way to go.  No tax!

Anyways, over the next few days I'm going to try to come up with a recipe for a Hefeweizen.  Summer is just around the corner and I want to have something on draught in the MacAloney Man Room that is crisp, refreshing, and thirst quenching.  A nice Hefe is probably the best way go to.  

After I brew the Hefe, I'm open to suggestions.  I'd like to brew something similar to the Anderson Valley Summer Solstice.  It's a solid drinking, flavorful summer ale that I believe the folks at AVBC categorize as a cream ale.  If you come across a recipe for something like this, please let me know.  I'd love to give it a whack.

All right well that's all I got for now.  Thanks for reading.  Be sure to crack open a cold one and tell me about it in the comments section.  



  1. My beer will have to wait til tomorrow. I'm working a mid. I didn't click the follow button, but I did subscribe to the RSS feed. Cool Brent...keep 'em coming!

    Andy B.

  2. Hey...any prizes for first to post a comment?! Or second?

  3. Yes the prize is a night of drinking in the MacAloney Man Room. We'll crack open some solid stuff. :)

  4. Only four months until the commissioned brew is due! btw, I've been meaning to go over the logistics involved. How do we keep the stuff cold inside the mansion without soaking the floor? They're anti- ice tub.

  5. @Tim...what about dry ice? Did we decide on what 2 styles you wanted?

  6. Finally got a chance to check this out. Look forward to sharing your brew adventures!

  7. Good luck with the hefe (you may have brewed it by now). There are not too many things better than a Hefe or a wit on a hot summer day.

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