Searching for the line between "hobby" and "obsession"


The neighborhood drank all my saison

I lugged a keg of saison and CO2 out into the street for my neighborhood’s annual National Night Out gathering on 8/7/12. The keg was full, save for maybe two beers I’d pulled off a few days before. Based on years prior, I didn’t expect my neighbors to be big drinkers. I was thinking they’d go through two or maybe three gallons. Once a few people really got to drinking it, the word spread and pretty soon most everyone was giving my saison a try. I was glad, as I think it’s one of the better beers I’ve done. Fermented fully and at a lower temperature so the yeast esters were present but not crazy out of control. Very important, given that this beer had been brewed just 16 days prior.

I’d never seen my neighbors this “social” before! When I grabbed the keg at the end of the night, I was very surprised as to how light it felt… The pic I’ve included here is from a few nights later when I used my Blichman Beer Gun to bottle the rest of the keg. How many bottles were left, you ask? FOUR. Jesus freakin’ H. Christ. The neighborhood downed about 4.5 gallons in about three hours. “Baxter, I’m not mad. I’m impressed!”¬†

I’ve gotta make more of this stuff. Read the rest of this page »


Bacon beer!

People have been noting this summer that my rauchbier tastes like… bacon! I can see that. Maybe I should name the next smoke beer I do after a brand of bacon dog treats, so as to keep with the dog theme. We’ll see.

My buddy Dave invited me over to hang out and learn about smoking meat. What better beer to bring than my smoked lager?! It paired great with the delicious pork and chicken he smoked that day. I had a lot of fun Saturday and told my wife I could see myself getting into this. She disagreed. For now. I could see myself getting into this in 10-15 years from now when I’m in my 40’s and older than dirt. ūüėČ Read the rest of this page »

Beers from the cellar

I recently drank a few “vintage” Barking Dog beers from the cellar. The first was on my recent saison brew day, where I found it incredibly appropriate to chill up a saison I brewed back in February of 2011.

LOVE how clear these get in time. Read the rest of this page »

Dry humor…

Have you ever had a saison that was too dry? I just took a refract reading while transferring my SOB 2.0 to secondary after 9 days at 72 ramped up to 78 degrees. Mash target was 147 but ended up being between 143-146. 1 lb table sugar in a 12.5 lb grain bill batch…

The refractometer wouldn’t register! At all! There isnt a reading to correct off of (if I assume it’s straight zero and a 1.055 OG, that puts me at 0.97 after correcting for alcohol and temp, and roughly 7.3% ABV). It’s basically telling me there is no sugar left. It all fermented. Upon tasting, I’d agree. I was hoping it’d end at like 1.005 or something, was aggressive in trying to ensure the batch would be dry because I’d read that too much body in saisons is the most common flaw. I succeeded, and then some. It’s spicy and almost evaporates off the tongue… Read the rest of this page »

Tilia in Minneapolis

Recently my wife and I hit up Tilia¬†in the Linden Hills neighborhood of South Minneapolis. It was very busy for a Wednesday night. We found out why. Fancy and reasonably affordable gourmet fare paired with a selective tap list. Very impressed. I even finally found a Saison Dupont that wasn’t skunked! Awesome.

I appreciated the bar tender’s honesty as he guided us away from poor choices. Here’s a convo excerpt:

Me: “I’d like New Belgium’s Lips of Faith please.’
Him: “No you wouldn’t.”
Me: “But I like sours!”
Him: “They neglected to sour it!”

He then let me try a sample of it. He was right! They pasteurized it too early and it didn’t really sour. I would have been disappointed. We got to talking about homebrewing and ¬†he bought a round for my wife and I. Free beer and a discerning guide? I like this place. The food was good too. We had a duck pate, scallops and a pasta dish. All were top notch. I’d go back, though maybe try to show up earlier than 7pm on more popular nights unless you want to wait.

July 2012 hop crop update

The bines are still going crazy! I’ve basically given up trying to keep them looking trim. Actually, my wife suggested I let them go a bit so that we could use them to create some privacy in our yard. It’s definitely worked.

Hop cones have formed on each of the plants already. Below are pics. Read the rest of this page »

SaiSon of a bitch (SOB) 2.0

It’s been a HOT and busy summer in Minnesota. Par for the course, I guess. I’ve either playing shows with the band or hanging with my wife and daughter. I haven’t brewed since I did a double brew day back on 5/12 (wheat and oktoberfest). It was about time to find a day again to get something new going. I decided to do a saison on 7/22. This is the second saison I’ve ever made and will be named after the first,¬†SaiSon of a bitch. I love this style. My favorite summer beer by far. The hot weather is well attuned to fermenting this style of beer as well, which definitely went into consideration when selecting this style.

The brew day went reasonably well. The biggest mistake I made was leaving the kitchen while I was filling a bucket with sanitizer and water. I have these clamps that hook onto the sprayer and let me multi-task. I went outside to do who knows what and forgot I was filling the bucket. When I came back in there was a quarter inch of water all over my kitchen floor. I ran for the sink and slipped on the water, banging my knee hard against the cabinet. This all happened with about 20 min. left in the 90 min. boil. It took me an extra 15 min. to clean up my kitchen as fast as I could, turning a 90 min. boil into a 105, which is what you’ll see noted in the boil schedule below. What were supposed to be 60 min. additions turned into 75. Read the rest of this page »

Private tour of Goose Island’s production brewery

Recently I was able to go on a private tour of Goose Island’s production brewery led by their communications coordinator, Ken Hunnemeder. Goose’s flagship brewery is located not far from their corporate offices and just a few miles from their Clybourn brew pub I toured a year ago. It was an extremely hot 100+ degree day outside and of course inside the brewery it was much warmer. I bet if Goose does protein rests on their mash they probably didn’t even have to heat the water on the day of my tour. Room temp would have sufficed. HA!

Before walking around the facility I was able to try a few beers they had on tap for tasting. Most notable was the latest in the Fulton & Wood series, Black Mission. They definitely hit the mark with Black Mission in an attempt to recreate the flavor of a fig¬†newton, though that doesn’t mean you should necessarily consider this a dessert beer. It had a dry finish and subtly spicy hop profile so as to work well with fattier meats like duck or lamb. The beer’s base malt bill is that of a Vienna lager, which makes sense when you taste all the caramel flavors from Vienna and Munich malts in this beer. The other sample I tried was Sofie, their saison. Though I’d had it before, I still reached for Sofie knowing this crisp citrusy Belgian ale with a hint of spice was perfect for accompanying the sweaty brewery tour ahead. Read the rest of this page »

Father’s day trip to Schell’s Brewing Co.

Though I definitely wear my interests on my sleeve, let me just say my wife has the process of catering to those down to a science. This past Father’s Day (my first), she surprised me with a beer flight holder a friend spotted at a craft fair and a trip down to New Ulm, MN to visit the second oldest brewery in the country, Schell’s Brewing.

Schell’s is a two hour drive from Minneapolis, making this a perfect day trip. This historic brewery and well-kept grounds have been featured in various magazines, most recently in the March issue of All About Beer magazine. We arrived a bit early for the tour so we drove into town and had lunch at Joni’s restaurant and catering. I was surprised at how tasty their “New Ulmer” burger with sauerkraut was, especially because the decor of the place was quite… humble. It’s worth a taste if you’re ever in the ‘hood.

Back to the brewery! Read the rest of this page »


Ok, so it’s not quite the victory I was hoping for. My Belgian Golden Strong didn’t place at the national round in the National Homebrew Competition, but just like last year, I’m happy to have advanced through regionals on to nationals.¬†Though as consolation, I must say I was very happy to see my California Common win a “best of show” style session beer competition at my homebrew club’s summer BBQ. Check out the details here on the club’s blog.

The pic to the right is my beer being poured and distributed. Whatever I did with the carbonation on this one was correct, as it has a nice sustaining head without being overly carb’d. I’ll have to look back at my notes. Read the rest of this page »