Random Openings 003


Random Openings 003

Firestone Walker
2013 Sucaba Barley Wine
12.5 ABV

Color – Ruby/Brown
Aroma – Big chocolate with bourbon sweetness
Flavor – Bourbon infused chocolate. Vanilla and caramel.

More random thoughts – Yes, I’m a Firestone Walker fanboy, but for good reason. This beer was phenomenal. One of the best examples of a beer that ages perfectly, with flavors staying in proportion.  I didn’t check the drinking temperature, but I shared it with two other people over about 30-minutes. When cooler the chocolate was huge. The bourbon and vanilla came in as the beer warmed.


Random Openings 002


Random Openings 002

Alaskan Brewing
2013 Pilot Series Barley Wine Ale
10.7% ABV
Bottled 11/4/13

Color – Ruby red with a hint of brown 
Aroma – Sweet, malty and a bit raisiny. Very traditional barley wine aroma.
Flavor – Toffee, brown sugar with a significant level of hop bitterness. Still has some alcohol heat to it.

More random thoughts – Smooths out a bit with the rise in temperature. Has a lingering bitterness on the backend that stays with you a little too long after you drink. Not as much body as I would expect in the style of beer. Definitely a beer to share, I don’t think I can finish this in one sitting. Preferred drinking temperature 50-55 degrees.

Random Openings 001

I may spend more time arranging and rearranging my refrigerators (yes, I have more than one) than I do drinking…ok, probably not.  But, I’m always in search of just a little more space to store the next beer.

Problem #1 Most of the beers that I’ve actually “cellared” are either 22s or 750s

Problem #2 Most of the above mentioned beers are in the double digits when it comes to ABV.

Granted, these are not devastating problems, but I really do need to start diving into my collection, and maybe slow down on my future purchases (a bit).

My solution is pretty easy. Open the fridge, grab a beer and drink. That sounds easy, but there are some sentimental feelings towards a few beers, and others demand sharing…Black Tuesday. So with the exception of a few hold outs, I’m going to randomly pick a beer each week and drink. Maybe just a taster or maybe the whole damn thing…Random Openings!


Random Openings 001

50/50 Brewing
2014 Eclipse Imperial Stout, w/olive green wax; 30-year old Rum Barrel Aged
11.9% ABV
Color – Deep brown/black with a mocha head
Aroma – Brown sugar, vanilla and toffee.  A mild amount of alcohol heat.
Flavor – Rich chocolate taste, with a mild and smooth rum flavor. It has a good amount of roast qualities and a surprising amount of hop bitterness. Very (too) easy drinking for such a high ABV.

More random thoughts – Once in the glass the alcohol heat dissipates quickly. The warmer the beer got the smoother and more drinkable it got.  Preferred drinking temperature 55-60 degrees. Dessert in a glass!




What makes a great beer event?

  • How much beer you drink? ccba_logorefresh_011916_001
  • How much it costs?
  • How many friends go?
  • The cool factor?

What if you could go to a 3-day event that culminated with a beer festival that included over 150 breweries, serving over 450 beers by brewery staff.  And by staff this includes owners & brewers.

The 2016 California Craft Beer Summit!

I might have a bias because it’s California, but California Craft Brewers Association knows how to put on an event.

The 3-day event had tickets that range from just the festival @ $60 to a full VIP ticket that gets you all access (just about) @ $289 with a total of 5 ticketing options.

3 days might sound like a lot of beer (it is, pacing people, pacing), but it’s not all about drinking.  There was 9-hours of trade show, broken up over 2-days.  This incuded vendors that supply homebrewers all the way to lawyers to help keep the breweries in line. During the tradeshow you get a chance to try beers being poured from the various brewers guilds located around the state.  Also pouring: Firestone Walker, Stone, Sierra Nevada and Laugunitas.

Beer Knowledgeimg_4555

One of my favorite parts of the event are the educational sessions, they make my inner beer geek a bit giddy.  There are mulitible tracks going, so picking one is often the hardest decision.

My Picks:

  • Yeast: The key to great beer. Karen Fortmann, Ph.D of White Labs gave a great talk on yeast. The session ended with a tasting of wheat beers, fermented with different yeast strains.
  • Alesmith: Charting growth over 21 years with Peter Zien the owner and CEO. Speedway Stout!!!
  • Dr. Charlie Bamforth, UC Davis gave a great presentation on the only thing that really matters, QUALITY.
  • Past, Present & Future: A talk with David Walker. Starting a brewery 20 years ago, not that easy. A trail blazing brewery for certain.
  • Master Pairings with “Dr.” Bill Sysak – Chocolate and Beer.  Bill is a wealth of knowledge and humor. Always fun to hear him talk. img_4562
  • Sip & Judge with Michael Moore “Big Mike” Fun to judge and discuss classic beer styles and flavor interpretation.
  • Closing Session: with Vinnie & Natalie Cilurzo and Tomme Arthur. What a way to end the summit. Honest, upfront and informative.  Anyone thinking about opening a new brewery in California should have been there. In short, saturation! It’s a big issue and depending on your goals, it can be a tough go in California for a new brewery.  They also agreed, they might not be brewers if they were starting out today.


And if none of those thrill you, they had sessions that included careers, hospitality, homebrewing, beer trends, building a brand, malting, barrels, advanced tasting and additional food pairings.

Ok, so the educational sessions might not be for everyone. I get that. But the opportunity to sit in on a conference where some of the biggest names in California beer are both presenting and listening is pretty damn special.

If you want an audio taste of the happenings at the 2016 California Beer Summit, check out my friends at Four Brewers, they put together a fantastic group of interviews from the floor.

This the 2nd annual summit, and I have been lucky to attended both. No joke, if you love beer and brewing, you need to attend. This is really one of the best beer events I’ve attended…Ever!


I’m Bringing It Back (until I get lazy). My blog about all things that interest me, and hopefully you.

Why you ask? Because I have many interests and I don’t just want to write about homebrewing.

So what are you going to write about? A little of everything, but beer, wine, spirits, food and travel.  But a lot about beer.

How often are you going to post? That’s a good question. I guess we will see how it goes.

What makes you the expert? I’m not the expert, and I’m not pretending to be. But, I tend to get around and I want to be able to share my experiences.

So what about the name? It dates back to the beginning of my social media life, and it kinda of stuck. Just know that it represents my family and friends (which I consider family), so you just have to deal with it.

So I hope to take the time to read and hopefully enjoy.



My First Attempt At Barrel Aging A Homebrew (updated tasting)

20130220-195805.jpgGot an awesome Christmas gift from my wife, an 8-gallon Rye Whiskey barrel from Woodenville Whiskey Co.  The first thing that had to be decided, what will the first beer be?  I want to brew a style that would highlight the whiskey flavors and not be masked by heavy hopping or roasted grains.

Old Ale was my choice and since at the time I was only brewing 5-gallon batches, I would need to brew a couple batches to make sure the barrel was filled.

Batch #1

Brewday 12/30/12

All Grain

Style Name: Old Ale
Boil Time: 90 min
Batch Size: 5 gallons (fermentor volume)
Boil Size: 7 gallons
Efficiency: 72% (brew house)

Original Gravity: 1.084
Final Gravity: 1.018
ABV (standard): 8.72%
IBU (tinseth): 31.5
SRM (mosher): 19.66

14 oz – American – Pale 2-Row (5.5%)
12 lb – United Kingdom – Maris Otter Pale (76%)
0.5 lb – American – Aromatic Malt (3.2%)
9.7 oz – American – Caramel / Crystal 120L (3.8%)
4.8 oz – American – Chocolate (1.9%)
1.5 lb – United Kingdom – Golden Naked Oats (9.5%)

1 oz – East Kent Goldings for 60 min, Type: Pellet, Use: Boil (AA 5.6, IBU: 19.44)
0.5 oz – East Kent Goldings for 15 min, Type: Pellet, Use: Boil (AA 5.6, IBU: 4.82)
1 oz – Fuggles for 15 min, Type: Pellet, Use: Boil (AA 4.2, IBU: 7.24)

1) Temperature, Temp: 155 F, Time: 70 min, Amount: 19.75 qt, Hold
2) Fly Sparge, Temp: 170 F, Time: 60 min, Amount: 20 qt

1 tbsp – 5.2 Mash Stabilizer, Mash


Wyeast – London Ale 1028 & Wyeast Scottish Ale 1728 Blended

Attenuation (avg): 79%
Flocculation: Med-Low
Optimum Temp: 60 – 72 F
Additional Yeast: Scottish Ale 1728

Batch #2

Brewday 1/12/13

All Grain
Style Name: Old Ale
Boil Time: 60 min
Batch Size: 5 gallons (fermentor volume)
Boil Size: 6.5 gallons
Efficiency: 78% (brew house)

Original Gravity: 1.084
Final Gravity: 1.017
ABV (standard): 8.8%
IBU (tinseth): 31.28
SRM (mosher): 19.32

13 lb – United Kingdom – Maris Otter Pale (90.8%)
6.6 oz – United Kingdom – Pale Chocolate (2.9%)
6.1 oz – Flaked Barley (2.7%)
4.4 oz – American – Aromatic Malt (1.9%)
4 oz – German – Chocolate Wheat (1.7%)

1 oz – East Kent Goldings for 60 min, Type: Pellet, Use: Boil (AA 5.6, IBU: 18.69)
0.5 oz – East Kent Goldings for 15 min, Type: Pellet, Use: Boil (AA 5.6, IBU: 4.64)
1 oz – Fuggles for 15 min, Type: Pellet, Use: Boil (AA 4.8, IBU: 7.95)

1) Temperature, Temp: 155 F, Time: 60 min, Amount: 18 qt, Hold
2) Fly Sparge, Temp: 170 F, Time: 60 min, Amount: 20 qt

1 tbsp – 5.2 Mash Stabilizer, Mash


Wyeast – London Ale 1028 & Wyeast Scottish Ale 1728 (pitched on batch #1 yeast cake)
Attenuation (custom): 80%
Flocculation: Med-Low
Optimum Temp: 60 – 72 F
Additional Yeast: Scottish Ale 1728

FG 1.017 1/27/13 added to Rye Barrel

Both batches were added to the Rye barrel on 1/27/13.

Beer sat in the barrel until 2/9/13. The beer was pumped out and kegged.

So I have had this beer a few times over the last 3 weeks and a few of my tasting notes.

Tasting Notesphoto-1

Aroma – Sweet Carmel and Rye Whiskey.

Color – Darker side of copper (if that’s a color) not quite a red.

Head – Creamy in texture, light tan in color

Carbonation – Light, on tap

Taste – Rich, malty, with a slight boozy aftertaste. Sweeter than I expected, but smooths out nicely as it warms up. I let a glass sit until it reach about 60 degrees and it drank very nice.

Summary – Not a sit by the pool on a hot day and pound kind of beer. More of an after dinner/dessert beverage, but hey it is an Old Ale. Since the batch was 8 gallons, I do expect the 2nd keg to sit for another 6 months, just in time to break out for the Fall.


2011 Homebrew – Year in Review

First up, 2011 was the first year of brewing 100% All Grain homebrew. Every brew may not have come out exactly as I planned, I do have to say every batch came out very drinkable and a few way better than I expected.



  1. Drop of a Dime – DIPA
  2. SMaSH  – Pale Ale Bootlegger’s version. Brewed on their pilot system and served to paying customers.
  3. Brown Eyed Squirrel – Nut Brown Ale
  4. Beliner Weisse
  5. But the Kitchen Sink – IPA
  6. American Wheat
  7. Iron Brewer” Red Cardamom Sweater
  8. Organic Red – Bison Brewing/New Brew Thursday homebrew competition
  9. Some People Call Me Maurice – Bourbon Cherry Chocolate Stout
  10. Ray’s American Wheat
  11. Funkified – Beliner Weisse
  12. Tipsy Melons – Watermelon Wheat
  13. Saison batch #1
  14. Shake Your Tree – Saison batch #2
  15. Yam-Tacu-Ale 2.0 – Belgian Porter
  16. Disorder in the House IPA – Soon to be brewed at Newport Beach Brewing Company.
  17. Scotch Ale
  18. One Tart Blond – Pomegranate Belgian Blond
  19. South of the Porter – Mexican Themed Porter
  20. Newport Beach Pale Ale – Newport Beach Brewing Company homebrew competition


The real highlights of 2011 were all the great people I met, new friends and spending time with some very cool “beer” people.

Homebrew 2012 "The New System"

I have started to accumulate home brew gear for my “new” yet to be built system. My goal is to have the new system fully functional by the end of 2012. Twelve months does give my a long time to assemble, test and brew, but the real factor is money. The system will be a single tier system, with the brewing capacity of 10 to 12 gallon batches. 

The first purchase I made was a hop filter from Brewers Hardware.


The fittings for this and the entire system will be Tri Clover Fittings. They are sanitary connections that are simple to clean and easy to use (once you get the hang of them) plus they Don’t Leak!!! It was also give the brew house a clean look.