Wednesday, October 14, 2015

I'm back! I think.

Curious about the lack of updates? You can find a little more over on my personal blog:

Since then my beer "sampling" has declined due to increased living expenses. Maybe that's a good thing and I can be more focused on each tasty beverage now. ;)

Since the last update...

Over the summer I volunteered at two festivals serving beer samples for Waller St. Brewing. The first was the Ottawa Craft Beer Festival in August, and the second was at "Marvest" at the CityFolk festival a few weeks later. I had a great time at both events. Talking to people who love craft beer is a lot of fun.

In the last month or two, I've also been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to do something I've been wanting to do for a long time: help make a large batch of beer. Large as in micro-brewery large at a micro-brewery, and learn more about brewing in the process.

Head Brewer, Marc-André, at Waller St. Brewing let me assist in making two batches of his beer. The first was my favourite: Bootleg Blonde. I'm happy (and relieved) to report that it turned out great. The second is still fermenting, but will be an American IPA. I know what its pending name is, but I think it maybe be a secret. I'm looking forward to trying it in the next week or so.

It been a fun few months and I'm hoping for more opportunities in the future. :) It keeps my mind busy.

Some think I'm crazy, including Marc. I don't. Although it is a lot of work, I don't think of it as work. I enjoy it and I'm learning. For Marc, this is a second job.


Sunday, February 1, 2015


I've been missing for a while. A lot going on in my personal life at the moment. Updates will hopefully resume soon. :)

Sunday, October 26, 2014


I ordered a FastFerment back in June during their pre-order special and it finally arrived this past week!

They were kind enough to include an extra collection ball with the initial kit. I think it was to make up for some delays they had with the design. A couple of months after my order, they offered an accessories kit that included a stand, carrying strap, temperature gauge, and another collection ball, which I added to my order.

I set it up one evening, and filled it with cleaning solution and let it sit for a couple of days to test it for any leaks. They provided plumbers tape to use for all connections to ensure that all connections would be leak-free. Everything seemed fine. Or so I thought.

For my first brew using the system, I chose a simple one that I've done twice in the past: Festa Brew's Pale Ale, which I will be dry hopping with some of my homegrown Cascade.

After we poured the pasteurized wort into the conical, and pitched the yeast, we noticed a couple of very slow leaks at two of the connections. I tightened them a little more and it seems fine now. I suspect I didn't use enough plumber's tape. I'll redo all connections before the next brew.

This photo might be a little misleading, as it sits beside the carboy. That carboy is only an 11.5 litre carboy, not 23 litres. But the FastFerment is still pretty big and will hold 30 litres (7.9 U.S. gallons)

This system is designed to save time for racking since the only thing you need to do is shut off the valve, remove the ball, replace it with a clean one and turn the valve back on. No more sanitizing a carboy, hoses, racking rod, and then having to clean and sanitize the primary pail. The only thing I'll need to clean is the collection ball, unless I want to save the yeast it collected. I'm not at that point with my home brewing.

The bine that refused to die

Today is bitter sweet.

I harvested the last of the hops cones, and then cut the bine down.

Back in June when the plants got ill, from an apparent "Hops Mosaic Virus", I never imagined that I would be harvesting cones this month. When August came and went, with virtually no signs of flowers, despite the fact that the bines continued to thrive high above, I had pretty much given up hope.

Final photo before last harvest.

Today's final harvest was the largest yet.

Future compost

All harvests
I'll wait until the weather gets cooler and then bring the two pots that I planted them in inside. Next spring I plan to transplant them directly into the front flower bed, to the right of where they were this year. There's a tall wall that I'm going to try and build a trellis against.

What to do with the harvest? My first brew will be dry hopping a Festa Brew Pale Ale. The Pale Ale was started yesterday.

Which brings me to my next post... FastFerment!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Got hops?

Sooo slacking on the blog here.

Anyway, on Saturday morning my wife and I were leaving early to take a trip out to Prince Edward County for a night's stay and a half-day wine tour of the area. As I was leaving the house, I turned around and looked up at the big mess of what is supposed to be my hops plants.

As I mentioned, I haven't updated in a while but the plants recovered from their illness late in the summer, and produced tiny flower buds. I didn't expect that the weather would stay nice enough for them to turn into actual hops cones.

This photo is from September 6th.

You can see the tiny flowers.

So, as I was leaving this past Saturday, I looked up at it and couldn't believe my eyes.

Actual hops cones!

On Monday, I opened the bedroom window and checked them out. They were pretty close to being ready for picking (papery feel), so I picked a couple of handfuls to dry and freeze.

After reading up on harvesting hops, I realized that I may have picked them a little early. If and when I use them in home brew, it might end up giving the beer a bit of a grassy taste. We'll see. There are still plenty left to harvest, so if they can survive any frost that we get in the coming weeks, I'll have more to harvest.

Monday, July 28, 2014

International Beer Day

Could there be a better day than Friday to celebrate International Beer Day?

I think not.

Be sure to enjoy a few pints this Friday. Responsibly, of course. :)


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Homebrewing weekend

On the weekend we bottled the Belgian IPA and racked the Witbier. The gravity for the IPA was bang on to what it was supposed to be for bottling, which means the ABV will probably be around 6% after conditioning.

We drank the sample I took and it tasted pretty good. More bitter than the West Coast IPA I've made in the past, which it should be. Can't wait to try it with carbonation!

Every time I'm doing something with home brewing, it makes me look forward to getting FastFerment. The biggest problem I have when homebrewing is getting the flow started between the primary and secondary for racking, and then transferring between the secondary and the priming pail for bottling. This should save so much time and hassle.

They're still taking orders for their first 1000 units. $90 U.S. ($120 Cdn) is a pretty good price in comparison to what the original V-Vessel sold for. It's worth checking out:

Once I get it in my hands I'll post pics and maybe a video.