RSS update

March 19, 2012

Just because I mentioned nearly a year ago that we were moving to doesn’t mean that some folks updated their RSS feeds (or that I changed the link on my nifty little RSS button). So some good people haven’t been getting updates scrolling through their RSS feeds. If you’re one of those folks, you can get the new feed here.



We’ve moved!

July 12, 2011

We’ve been working on a switcheroo for quite some time, and so this will be the last time I post to the dotwordpressdotcom version of this humble blog. There are a few changes, improvements and additions, but for the most part, it’ll be the same harmony, beer and joy simply housed at a shorter-named location:

Please change your bookmarks, links and whatnot and visit us at our new home.



Beer Breakfast II

May 7, 2011

Another heads-up on an upcoming Iowa beer event coming right up. As part of my duties on the Board of the Corning Opera House Cultural Center, I worked up a beer breakfast last year–nothing like drinking beer for historic preservation–and we’ve got the sequel scheduled for May 20.

This year we’ll be serving breakfast in the evening (per a few requests) and it will be taking place at the American Legion, just up the street from the Opera House on Main Street in Corning, as the final phase of renovation is under way and we can’t hold the event on our home turf.

Iowa Craft Brew Festival slated for May 21

May 6, 2011

In celebration of American Craft Beer (May 16-22), the Iowa Brewers Guild is launching the First Annual Iowa Craft Beer Festival on May 21 in downtown Des Moines.

There will be an onslaught of beers from over 20 of Iowa’s breweries, as well as more from regional and national breweries of note. Music, food and fun. And an afterparty. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door (which is a dealio).

I’ll be there. Say hello.

The weight guess winner

April 27, 2011

Back on Day 30 of the Part-time Monk project, I initiated a contest to see who might be able to guess my final gravity. Though there were two guesses of 134.5 and one guess of 134.8, that winner was Ben, who correctly guessed 135 pounds on April 7.

And he wins!

I’ve contacted Ben, and as soon as I get his address, he’ll have a copy of Beginning Homebrew on the way to his mailbox.

Congratulations, Ben!

Illuminator at the Red Bull

March 22, 2011

If you’re in our neck of the woods, we’ll have Illuminator Doppelbock on tap at the Red Bull in Corning on Friday, March 25. Limited quantities, so if you want to try the brewvana-Rock Bottom collaboration beer, you’ll need to hustle!

Halifax Hops

March 8, 2011

Retired from the US Air Force and looking for some noble work to do, Ray Brenner of Halifax, PA, has turned his attention to hops, working toward a commercial operation to satisfy the needs of a hop loving public.

Brenner sent me a sample of Cascades a while back, so I brewed up an American brown ale to give them a test drive. The result was grapefruit-kissed libation that has served me well, whether paired with Moroccan tagine, chili dogs, ham and beans, wasabi peas or all by itself.

Brenner has 150 hills and will be expanding to 500 this year, adding 10-15 varieties to see what will work best in Pennsylvania. He expects a yield of 200-300 pounds of Cascade and Magnum in the 2011 season and will happily lock in pre-orders for those interested.

No website just yet, but shoot him an email at halifaxhops [AT] hotmail [DOT] com, if you’d like to learn more.

Illuminator update

February 23, 2011

If you’re anything like me, you’ve been having a hard time sleeping at night. How’s Wilson’s beer coming along?, you’ve been thinking. I thought I’d check in with an update, to help you get some rest.

It’s lagering away, says brother Eric. Wanna sneak peek? Here you go, via Eric’s Tweet Machine:

Details. What are the details?

Brewed with Munich, Vienna, CaraMunich, CaraPils and a touch of Carafa III, and hopped with primarily Liberty hops, the OG was 19 Plato and the FG was 6.3.

The Beer Police will moan that at 6.67 % abv, it’s restrained for a doppelbock, and they’re welcome to whine. While most doppelbocks start at 7.5 % and climb to 11 % or more, I’d point out that as late as 1853, Zacherlbrau’s Salvator (the secular follow up to the original Paulaner monk-brewed “doppelbock”) had crap attenuation at 45.96 %, leaving a beer that started at 1.098 and finished at 1.051 at a mere 5.94 % abv–and prolly a little sweet, to boot.

It’s “a bold, unfiltered monk’s Lenten session beer,” with a calculated 288 calories per 12-ounce serving. And the alcohol is restrained compared to other doppelbocks on the market. This beer is a thoughtful rendition that I hope will remain drinkable enough to be all I consume—aside from supplementary water—for 46 days. And I hope the folks that visit Rock Bottom to drink the rest of this labor of love enjoy it, too.

Illuminator will be released at Rock Bottom—Des Moines (4508 University Avenue, West Des Moines 50266) on Fat Tuesday—March 8, 2011—with a special tapping at 6 p.m., followed by a crawfish boil at 7 p.m.

Join us if you’re in the neighborhood!

The other illuminating good news is this:

Eric tossed some of the Illuminator in a Heaven Hill rye barrel yesterday, so there’s that to look forward to, as well. When it’s time…

UPDATE: this just in from Rock Bottom’s newsletter regarding the release (note the RSVP info)–

If you’ve ever been in Bayou country you know what fun this is…then again, we’ve been boiling ‘em up for years.

Crawfish, Andouille Sausage, corn on the cob, potatoes, onions and garlic all boiled up together and thrown down on the table for your enjoyment.

Wash it down with our delicious craft brews! We’ll feature a pre-tapping IrishRed Fire Chief Ale, Heartland Light Lager, VolksWeizen or Illuminator.

Please RSVP by calling (515) 267-8900 before March 6th.

Market Price (announced via Facebook before March 6th) includes dinner, beer, gratuity & tax.

A little Fast-intro video

February 16, 2011

We put together some video to introduce the project and what’s floating around in our (my) tiny little brain on this Lenten side project. This one’s cross-posted with the Diary of a Part-Time Monk blog, but later installments will only appear on Diary and brewvana’s YouTube channel. There’ll be a couple more small videos talking about different facets of the project before it begins on March 9, and then we hope to toss up short weekly burst during the fast itself…enjoy!

Brewing Illuminator–a beer for the fast lane

January 28, 2011

A few days ago I mentioned my doppelbock collaboration with Eric Sorensen of Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery–Des Moines, and it’s time to dive a little deeper into what that’s all about.

Enamored with the story of the origins of doppelbock, a couple of years ago, I thought it might be interesting to recreate that experience and fast on doppelbock for the duration of Lent as the Paulaner monks of Neudeck ob der Au–who are credited with developing the beer that is today know as doppelbock–would have done.

When the idea first came about, my work situation wouldn’t have allowed me to do it–long, hot, fast-paced hours hardly resembled a monk’s life, my wife quickly pointed out. So the idea was put on hold to ferment–until now.

I approached Eric last August at a beer festival and he quickly signed on to work with me on scaling up one of my homebrew recipes to brew at Rock Bottom.

Yesterday was our long-awaited brew day.

Between August and January, Eric and I have exchanged countless messages hammering out the details of the recipe. In my opinion, he’s gone above and beyond the call of duty to accommodate my little project, and for that I’m very grateful.

The goal was to produce a bold, unfiltered doppelbock, packed with calories and carbs so that I don’t wilt away on my journey. It’s heavily reliant on Munich and Vienna malts (and friends), and hopped with just the right amount of Magnum and Liberty hops. The OG starts at 1.076 (after having a couple bottles of Three Floyds’ Creeper recently, I was certain that though it’s fun to make beers big and meaty, this beer couldn’t be so big that it lost some measure of drinkability–and I needed a somewhat manageable alcohol content). To be historically accurate, we would have needed to  crash this beast at a ridiculously high finishing gravity, so, that’s one place where my purist tendencies will be left by the wayside. Eric needs to sell the remaining beer, after all.

We kicked off a double brew day at 9 a.m., and after doing Illuminator and then a porter, it was a long day. Thank goodness for short bursts of beer samples and someone else cooking lunch. As a few folks know, this isn’t my first time raking grain out of a mash tun. Brewing is hard work and attention to detail is paramount. It felt good to mill hundreds of pounds of grain, hit a mash temp (158F) and turn a few valves. Though the life of a professional brewer isn’t as glamorous as some folks might think, at the end of the day, one is making beer, and that is very rewarding, making all the heavy lifting, cleaning and other mundane tasks worth it.

For me, it adds a layer of investment to this fast, which will be no easy task. I made that beer. And so did Eric. I can’t fail. Aside from the delightful read that will be on the other side of Lent, there’s too much good to come from this project. I don’t know what, but it’ll emerge.

What was it like for a monk to drink beer for 46 days? Stay tuned.


To follow along as this project progresses, check out Diary of a Part-time Monk.

PS: guess what’s going in here:


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