Friday, November 19, 2010

Brewstock's Top 10 Gifts for Homebrewers!

I was looking through our inventory today, and was trying to decide what I'd love to get as a gifts this holiday season:) There's always those 'wants' that aren't really needs. We covered a few of it, use it, get awesome presents. Have a great Christmas!

The list-

1. Gift Certificate - OK, this gift could be your savior. Get what you want. Good in store for anything!

2. Wort Chiller - Whether it's a high end Therminator or a simple to use Immersion Chiller, this is an indispensable tool for the homebrewer. Cool your beers down quicker, take the pain and wait out of brew day.

3. Thermostat - Got a fridge or freezer sitting around you could be using for serving beer or lagering? Get yourself one of these and get more control over your fermenting and serving temperatures.

4. Blichmann Beer Gun - Kegging, but need a few bottles to take over to a buddy's place for the game? you need one of these.

5. Brew Heater - Brew up to 10 gallons of beer, indoors! An electric heating element you can use for mashing or boiling your brew. Simply awesome.

6. Mash Tun - Your first step in to serious brewing starts with a mash tun. Get in gear, save money on ingredients, and start brewing all-grain!

7. March Pump - Too much heavy lifting? Looking to get in to all-grain? Want to brew more beer? This bad boy is gonna help your beer get from one place to another.

8. Cheesemaking Kit - The beer brewer who has everything? Why not try your hands at the perfect partner to your homebrew- cheese. Hard or soft, all you'll need is some milk from the store!

9. American Homebrewer's Association Membership -At only $35, this gift makes a lot of sense for the experienced or beginning homebrewer. 6 issues of Zymurgy magazine, discounts to local pubs, and discounted or free attendance to events and rallys!

10. Rogue Extract Beer Kit - A top quality kits designed by one of the best breweries in the country. Try your hand at their Dead Guy Ale, Hazelnut Brown Nectar, or Shakespeare Stout!

Friday, July 9, 2010

A new hard cider kit!

I've been having a lot of fun the last week. At work. Doing research. I know, I know... I'm either a super nerd or I love my job. Probably both. Anyhow, after seeing a lack of high quality hard cider kits on the market, I've decided to throw my hat in to the hard cider ring.

The 'fruition' (eh?) of these efforts has culminated in the release of Brewstock's first hard cider kit effort. The Midcountry Hard Cider Kit, is available for preorder, and will ship, or be available for pick up come early September... or whenever the apples decide they're ready for a squeeze.

I've spent a lot of time researching cider apples, blending cider, contacting orchards, and gathering all the information I could on the best process for getting this cider to you.

I've decided to go with an unconcentrated cider, this stuff is fresh. It's getting pressed, shipping to me, and then shipping to you. If you preorder, you'll probably have this cider 10 days from the apples actually hanging on the tree! Crazy fresh, unadulterated, unconcentrated cider. The 5 gallon kits will ship in 6.5 gallon fermenting buckets, with liquid cider yeast! The varieties of apples this kit will primarily be built on are Jonathan, Gala and Red Delicious. There's a bit more info on the Brewstock info at the kit page.

If you have any questions about the kit, just get in touch!


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Malt Extract - Liquid, Dry, Bulk, Canned

Hey all- thought I'd get a blog about malt extracts posted here, since I get at least two or three people asking me each day, 'which do you prefer?' and 'do you carry bulk?'

Which malt extract do I prefer, dry or liquid?

I don't really have a preference...

Wait, maybe I do have a preference... dry malt is great. It keeps better, and longer, if sealed well. It can give you a lighter color as well- it's less prone to scorching, and the malt itself is produced at a lighter color by the malting facility (take Briess' Pilsen Light dry malt, which is, I believe the lightest malt extract on the market.) And a pound of dry goes further than a pound of liquid. By this I mean, there's more sugar in a pound of dry malt, than in a pound of liquid malt. There's no water weight.

So, 1 lb of dry malt extract is equal to about 1.25-1.3 lbs of liquid malt. I usually say roughly 5lbs of dry is equal to about 6.3lbs of liquid malt. There are online calculators to help you make closer approximations.

Personally I use liquid just as much (if not more) than I use dry, and get great beers from both. If you're planning on keeping malt around for use 'down the road' get yourself some dry malt.

Do I carry bulk malt in the store?

Sometimes I carry bulk, but not in summer. Yes, buying bulk divided up can be cheaper, or costlier, depending on how you look at it...

A lot of homebrew shops carry bulk malt in their store. It sometimes leads to savings for the purchaser. But, there can be some problems with bulk malt.

1. Oxygen - As soon as they open their barrel or pail of malt, oxygen is introduced. This can cause the malt to taste stale in your finished product. Often shops will try to blanket their malt with CO2, but this is only really solving half the problem- the empty space is being filled, but the spigot is often still allowing air in. Also, your container that the malt is getting poured in to often has a bit of head space for oxygen and isn't purged before filling.

2. Bacteria and Mold - Although you'll be boiling your malt, effectively killing anything that was living in it- mold loves, loves, loves malt. If you're a frequent buyer of bulk malt, and have ordered some and then let it sit around some, I'm sure there's been a point where you've seen mold develop on your malt. Either as a white flake, or green fuzziness. Typically it can be removed, and the malt can be boiled, with no ill effect on the beer. But it goes to show what sort of shelf life malt has when not packaged properly.

3. Shelf Life - I just touched on this a little bit. Check and make sure the bulk malt you're getting is somewhere close to its shelflife date. Malt packaged in barrels and buckets has a shorter shelf-life than malt canned at the malting facility. Often times when I receive bulk malt I have 3 months to sell it, based on the 'best if used by' date. If I take a look at the boxes the cans come in, the shelf life is often a year. It's a big difference, and it can make a big difference in the quality of your beer.

So yeah, in the heat and humidity of a New Orleans summer, I carry bulk malt, only when I think I can sell it fast. And even then, I only order the 33lb jerry packs, not the 60lb buckets. Cans are typically a safer bet if you don't know when you'll be brewing next, and you want a guarantee that it was packaged well, in a sanitary container. Beer isn't cheap to make, saving a couple bucks is always great, just make sure you use that bulk malt as soon as possible

Happy Homebrewing!


Friday, March 26, 2010

Hop Growing Down South

So you wanna grow hops but you live in one of the Southern states like me. Here in New Orleans, where it's extra humid, we can still grow hops, we just need to be careful.


1. No Full Sun - Most growing directions will call for full sunlight. This works up North where it may get up to 100F a few times during the summer, but it never stays around that temperature. The nights are also much more cool in the normal growing regions for hops. Think about a place that gets full morning or afternoon sun, like the East side of your house. That will be your best bet.

2. Water at Night - Hops need a lot of water. Evaporation is the enemy down South. After the sun goes down, soak your hops well. But remember- if the soil is already damp or saturated form rain, watering will not do the plant any good, and may just cause rot.

3. Find Tolerant/Resistant Hops - Cascade hops are known to do well in almost any condition. Magnum does well everywhere as well. The English varieties and low-yielding hops like Golding, Fuggle and Willamette may give you less hops, but they also require less consistent watering, but do require good soil. If given the right conditions, Centennial and Sterling will give you large yields, but may wilt easily in full sun.

4. Don't do too Much - Unless you're planting in sand or in shallow soil, you don't have to go crazy with the fertilizer. Weed around the hops, and let them do their thing. If you've given them somewhere to climb, they will find it and climb. If you have average soil, they'll be fine. Over fertilization can lead to a leafy, low alpha acid hop.

Good luck!


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Pale Ale Kit Contest

Hi all-

I've been wanting to a Kit Contest for a while. I actually plan on having many more...

This first one is for a Pale Ale. You brew a pale ale, enter it in the competition, and you could end up with one of your own beers on the shelf in Brewstock, for all homebrewers to try their hand at.

I'm hoping everyone can have some fun with this, and I really look forward to trying all the great pale ales people are brewing out there!

We are accepting beers/recipes for an extract and an all-grain kit.

More info can be found here - Brewstock Pale Ale Kit Contest.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Give yourself a break, brew easy.

Homebrewing can definitely become an obsession for some people. Understandable. Think about it- you're making beer. It's awesome.

Life though, is often hard to brew around, and many people who invested time and money in to equipment, sometimes just find it hard to brew regularly. Some people choose to just brew when they want. Either way, you may find brewing even more satisfying, and that you have more time to brew, by keeping it simple.

If you've been doing all-grain batches, and your brewing has slowed down due to weather outside, or just not having enough time in the day, you may find you can satisfy the brew bug by getting a simple extract batch going on the stove. Forget the grains, forget the mashing, forget the starter. Remember, you can make great beer with malt, hops and dry yeast. You don't need to step-mash every time.

So next time you get the itch, and think you don't have the time, stop by your local homebrew shop and grab a True Brew German Style Light Kit, or Brewer's Best Cream Ale Kit. Both turn out great, and make a nice refreshing beer that you won't be left drinking alone. Not to mention, they're quick.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Brewstock Buyers Club

February is a funny month for retailers in New Orleans. Depending on your business it can be a month to remember or a month to forget. This February looks to be better for most retailers out there, with Mardi Gras being compounded by the Saints in the Super Bowl. Anything black and gold is going to sell- t-shirts, hats, napkins, flags, shot glasses, jerseys, tooth brushes, underwear, you name it, it's selling.

In the home brewing business these things help as well, as people brew for the Super Bowl and Mardi Gras. Of course, most of these sales happen in January, so the beer is ready by then!

Since this is only my second February in business, and it seems like a great month to try something new, I'm starting the Brewstock Buyers Club. A one year membership gets you 10% off everything for a year, and many other bonuses.

I feel if I do this every February it'll probably catch on some. It gives me a chance to gain a small padding of extra income in February for store projects. Whether it's a bigger sign, advertising, expanding the product line, or just fixing things that need fixing. In this year's case- it's all going to go toward a bigger store. I've begun a search for a bigger space, and know this would please a great deal of people. More inventory, more room to browse, more room for family and kids.

If the Brewstock Buyers Club seems like something you would be interested in, please don't hesitate to get in touch with me. And know, that this year's membership money goes toward something we can all use, a bigger store!