All posts by paleales

The Monster Mash 2: Field of Hops

The historic porter group brew in Piscataway had it all – some 9am Pilsners, a stuck mash, and suspicious neighbors doing slow drivebys all day long! Piscataway had never seen the likes of it. Due to a supply chain issue, the brewing didn’t get started right away (hence the 9am pilsners). But once we got started, there was no stopping. That is, until Ryan’s stuck mash! Luckily, that was only a temporary setback. As you can see from the pictures, it was a small group, but in the end all problems were overcome with good helpings of brew, pulled pork (thanks Chef Ryan!) and some post-brewing hobo juice, also known as applejack, aka apple liquor, aka that stuff that Ben brought. The brews are coming along nicely, Ben Bakelaar just racked his tonight, OG = 1.058, FG = 1.028 for a 3.91% ABV beer according to BeerSmith. Dave Rawlins racked his last weekend and got an FG of 1.024. And so the countdown has begun to Monster Mash 3: Princeton vs. Rutgers…. and we all know how that one turns out!

October 2011 Group Brew – Traditional Porter

The PALE ALES are planning to hold a group brew event in October 2011 where all members would brew a traditional English porter. Several members have invested a lot of time and energy into this, and we are hoping that you will find this as exciting as we do! If you have a minute, please read over the information below and respond to this post to let us know if you are interested. Also, if you have any questions, suggestions, or comments, please post those as well. Unfortunately, you’ll have to register an account on this site first, it’s the only way we can effectively keep out spammers. Thanks!

A traditional porter varies in several ways from the modern porter described in the BJCP guidelines. As Clay Spence discussed at the Saison meeting, the main difference is that “brown malts” were used as the base malt. These malts were kilned more than pale malts. Because of the extra kilning, they do not yield as much fermentable sugar. So, Clay’s test batch (85% brown malt, 15% six-row) which some of us tasted at the Saison meeting had an original gravity of ~1.070, and a final gravity of ~1.040. The taste was very full bodied – even a bit like a milkshake. But, obviously it was not very high in alcohol. Al from East Coast Yeast did a batch also, and his came out a bit higher ABV. Ryan Hansen is experimenting with using brettanomyces bacteria to help the yeast convert more of the sugars.

To participate in the October 2011 group brew, members will choose from one of two options. The first option which we encourage everyone to try out is to malting the grains yourself! Several members, including Joe Bair, Marc Leckington, and Ryan have been experimenting with this and will provide instructions for how to malt-your-own! There are 5 steps: steeping, germinating, drying, kilning, and mellowing. The entire process takes approximately 24 days, so it is not for the weak and lazy among us. For those people (like myself), the second option is to order a mix of modern malts that approximates the traditional recipe. To find out more information about the malting process, check out the Princeton Homebrew Facebook page.

Another difference between this group brew and the recent Big Brew is that it won’t be a single event where everyone meets up together. Instead, there would be “satellite” brews where several members in a given area meet up at someone’s house and brew together. This is a great chance to expand your brewing skills and try something new!

POLL (respond by commenting on this post)

1. I am interested in the malt-your-own traditional porter recipe.
2. I am interested in the modern malt recipe.
3. I am not interested in or able to participate this time.

May 2011 Update

Greetings Homebrewers!

It’s an honor to be given the chance to take the helm of PALE ALES. The Board and I are very excited about picking up on the ongoing initiatives and seeing them through as well as starting a few new ones of our own. But before I go on, I’d like to publicly acknowledge and thank Kevin Trayner for serving as the group’s President for the past five years — including two “dark years” where Princeton Homebrew was closed (and ingredients were hard to come by). Kudos, Kevin! I’m grateful that Kevin has agreed to stay on the Board to help with the transition and motivate us with his enthusiasm for all things beer!

I’m happy to announce PALE ALES is back on a monthly meeting schedule! We will be meeting on the 2nd Monday of each month. Check the Calendar page for the latest.

Happy Brewing!
Marc Leckington

Big Brew 2011 Recap & Picture Gallery

One of our biggest and best Big Brews so far! We brewed over 125 gallons of beer with a mix of over 20 brewers. Saw quite a few visitors, lots of great beer and food, and a few new members; not to mention the backdraft flare from a propane burner (mine actually), and a few 6-foot electrical arcs from the overhead powerline.

We had a toast later on from the club’s first Big Brew, Strong Ale of 14-15 years in age, provided by Prof. Steve Rowley. Pretty darn tasty! I look forward to sampling this Big Brew, made exclusively with East Coast yeast – mostly ECY08 Saison Brasserie blend.

Speaking of yeast, Al and Nina Buck proprietors of EC Yeast showed up personally to deliver the yeast. Note – the optimum temp range for the yeast is 75-85 deg. Personally, I would have to say this was one of the most active yeasts I have ever seen at a Big Brew. Bubbling like crazy in an hour or so – most remarkable as it was in my basement at 70 deg. (I have moved it upstairs since – didn’t realize how chill it was). Al and Nina whatever you are feeding them, keep it up.

If anyone wants to pass along data about their batch to East Coast Yeast, Joe (joe@solarhomebrew) would be happy to collect them. For the info to be useful, Joe needs mash temp, OG, FG and fermentation temp.

— Kevin Trayner