CCZ and the House that Beer Built: The Sod Generation

The whole crew

On August 4th Circle City Zymurgy returned to the Boone County Habitat For Humanity site to help in the project The House that Beer Built. That day was all about landscaping.

Sod for days!

Once again most of the focus was on the blue house. There we planted several bushes, some flowers and a tree. For that part of the landscaping project we had the help of some wonderful ladies who were well-versed in domestic horticulture. Their expertise made it easy to understand what needed to be done and were patient with those of us that needed a little more coaching. The bulk of the plants were planted around the front porch and the tree was planted along the driveway towards the road.

Aligning the sod

As you can see from the first image we had a very large crew for the day’s work. While some volunteers planted, the rest started working on laying sod. After the planting was quickly done, everybody jumped into laying sod around the house. For lunch we got lots of pizza, fruit and cookies. After lunch we finished up laying up the sod around the blue house and then stepped on the sod to make sure there was no air underneath. This step was necessary as if there was an air gap between the sod and the ground then parts of the sod will die.

Fixing the sod around the red house.

The red house also got some love that day. Earlier in the week the waterline had to be replaced. On top of the ground that was dug out for the repairs, the bracers on the backhoe tore through the sod that had already been laid. These areas around the red house had to be fixed and sodded anew. That process involved removing the edges of the remaining sod that had started to die and then cutting new sections of sod to fit those areas.

Thanks to the large crowd of volunteers that day we got finished much earlier than we did on our previous volunteer day. Heat was a major issue so we all made sure that ourselves and others around us had plenty of water to drink. Thank you Habitat for Humanity for all that you do and for letting us volunteer again for your organization. And thank you Amy Hartwig for all that you do and for several of the photos that I used in this post. We look forward to more days working with the project The House that Beer Built.

 

CCZ and the House that Beer Built

On site at the House that Beer Built

On July 7th several members of Circle City Zymurgy and volunteers from the Whitestown Methodist Church helped Habitat for Humanity in a project called the House that Beer Built. The project is a way for craft brewers and homebrewers to give back to the community.

Siding being put on the side of the light blue house

It was a beautiful, cloudless day though hot. Work was steady and hydration was very important. Two houses on the site were well into the build process that day. One was a red house that was further along. Cabinets were already installed in the kitchen area and all of the siding was installed on the exterior. The other house was a light blue color and needed more work done. As pictured a couple of the sides still needed siding put up. Sanding of the interior floor was done before subflooring installed for the laminate that will go on top of that.

 

We split up between the two houses and worked until noon when we stopped for lunch. Lunch was supplied by the Whitestown Methodist Church. All of the food was delicious and much appreciated.

Siding being put up on the front of the light blue house

After lunch we went back to work, most of it being focused on the light blue house. More siding was put up and the laminate flooring was installed in the living room. Around 3:30 we wrapped work up, cleaned up the site and went home.

It was a great experience to give back to a community that supports local craft brewers. We at Circle City Zymurgy look forward to further opportunities working with Habitat
for Humanity.

Kettle Sour: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Sour Beer

This blog was written by our member and frequent sour brewer, Ben Martin. Enjoy!

Are you a fan of sours, but don’t have the time and space to commit to 3 years? Afraid of infecting your clean brew house? Want to get out of the pale lager rut? Are you looking for a way to appease the hipster cult that lives next door? Well then this guide is for you! If not, keep reading you might learn something, maybe.

Disclaimer

This guide is simply a breakdown of the process I use to brew kettle sours on my system. I am by no means an expert. Your experiences may vary from mine. Words of warning, if you plan on attempting this, then you are making sour beer. This process limits your risk of infecting your brew house, but only if you practice good sanitation. Second, sour beer is more of an art than a science. Don’t be afraid to dump bad batches.

The Process

Goodbelly Probiotic Shot

Kettle souring is much like performing a normal brew day with a few added steps in the process. Equipment-wise, if you can brew a clean beer, you most likely have everything you need to brew a kettle sour. The one piece of equipment that is required/highly recommended is a pH meter. You will want to measure the drops in pH during the kettlesouring process.

Kettle souring begins like a normal brew day. Perform your mash as you normally would. Personally I brew BIAB (Brew In A Bag). I perform a 70 minute mash on an induction burner keeping my mash around 150°F. After the mash I squeeze my grain bag to free up as much wort as possible.

Pitching Goodbelly into wort.

The next step is the kettle souring step. During this step is the only chance to contaminate your brew house. Bring your wort to a brief boil to sanitize the wort and kill off any unwanted yeast or bacteria naturally present in the wort. After a brief boil chill the wort down to 100°F. Pre-acidify the wort to a pH between 4.2 -4.5. This will help prevent unwanted bacteria from growing in your wort and creating off-flavors. Pitch a pure lactobacillus culture and seal the kettle. Wait for the terminal or desired pH to be reached.

 

Anvil Brew Kettle with Ferment in a kettle gasket.

My kettle souring step looks like this; after the mash I bring my wort to a boil for 15 minutes. I then chill the wort to 110°F. I measure the pH and pre-acidify the wort to pH 4.2. During this step my temperature naturally falls to my target pitch temp of 100°F. Then I spray StarSan around the inside of the kettle and on the lid. I pitch a Goodbelly Probiotic Shot.

This contains a pure culture of lactobacillus planetarum. Then I seal up my Anvil kettle using the fermenter conversion kit. I let my kettle temperature free fall to room temperature over 3 days. By then my terminal pH, normally 3.6, has been reached.

Anvil Brew Kettle sealed for souring.

After you reach your terminal pH, it is time to resume your normal brew day. Bring the soured wort up to a boil, add hops according to your recipe, chill and pitch your yeast. This boil sterilizes the batch and kills the lactobacillus. This allows you to use your clean cold side equipment for the batch. Due to the low pH of the wort, yeast will experience acid shock. It is important to note that you need a large and healthy yeast starter to pitch.

Gose with blackberries and raspberries.

The rest of my process works as such; I bring my soured wort to a boil for 15 minutes. Add a small dose of hops to reach around 8 IBUs. Chill the wort to 72°F and pitch yeast. I normally chose Imperial A20 Citrus for all my kettle sours. I then let the fermentation ride. I do not have temperature controlled fermentation. If I plan to add fruits, I will typically add them towards the end of active formation on the 5th day from pitching yeast. The fruit will sit for a week before kegging. I normally target 1-2lb of fruit per gallon.

Dry hopped kettle sour with hop garnish.

 

As I stated, I am not an expert. There are plenty of people who know more about this than I do. Here are a few of the best sources for more information on kettle sours and sour beer in general.
Milk the Funk Wiki (This group also has a Facebook group, but if you ask a question the first thing they are going to say is read the wiki.)
The Sour Hour Podcast
The Mad Fermentationist Blog
Dr. Lambic Blog

Taxman Brewing – Circle City Zymurgy Wort Share

What a great day! Yesterday Circle City Zymurgy had the pleasure of joining Taxman Brewing in Bargersville for a wort share. We took the base wort for Exemption, Taxman’s Belgian Tripel, and made it our own. Altogether we had 12 homebrewers join in on the wort share in the parking lot of the brewery. In April, we will sample the different beers and choose the top six. The six winners get free tickets to Taxman’s Death and Taxes on April 21st and get to pour their beer there!

The base wort for Exemption was a great pick as it allowed us to make it into almost anything. We could choose to add extra grains, we chose our own hops, yeast, and other ingredients. A few of us chose to stick with a Belgian Tripel, some adding special/secret ingredients to make it different. We also have a black IPA, a milkshake IPA, maibock, and other styles in the making so you can really see the creativity we get from some of our homebrewers!

Most of us showed up a bit before 10:00 AM and we all had our beer into our fermenters and started cleaning up by around 2:00 PM. As you could imagine, we discussed what we were making, the Taxman beers we had throughout the day, and what we were going to do with our beer throughout the next few weeks.

Once everyone got their equipment stored away, Colin and David walked us through the brewery. We saw a room full of a ton of “clean” beers aging in different liquor and wine barrels and a room full of sour beers also aging in barrels. We went to another building where the grainmill, brew kettle, HLT, mash tun, brite tanks, and fermenters were stored. Colin allowed us to walk up the stairs and check out the main brewing area to look at the tanks and walked us by all of the huge fermenters.

After the tour, some of us finished up by going to the taproom and sampling some more Taxman beers and got some much needed food after our brew day! The Red Wine Barrel Aged Qualified and wilf-fermented Certified were definitely a big hit among the club. A lot of us had the Barnyard Burger which had a slice of pork belly and over-easy egg on top of the burger. Delicious!

Circle City Zymurgy wishes to thank Taxman brewing and all others involved in making this happen. We had a great time!

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Guide: Obtaining Your Permit to Pour at Festivals

Want to pour at a festival? Great, its a lot of fun! There’s just a few quick steps that you need to do about a month in advance. Although everyone’s ID is checked at the entrance, you do still need a permit to legally be able to pour beer. It just takes filling out a simple form, a little bit of money, and then a few weeks to process. Here’s how to get started.

First, go to this link and click continue under the steps for a new registration. Fill out the form completely. Everything here is pretty self explanatory. Once you fill out the form, sign in with the login you just made. Click initial application on the left side of the screen and fill it out as follows:

A few notes come up before proceeding. They are as follows:

  • Completion of Server Training is required within 120 days of issuance of this permit. You will have the opportunity to complete Server Training online after this application is submitted.
  • An Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) Check of your BMV driving record is preformed on every application. Please allow 24 – 48 hours for the check to be preformed before your application is complete. You can use the receipt from this online application for 60 days to work until your permit arrives in the mail.
  • The total fee for this application is $18.87 ($15.00 Application Fee + $3.87 in processing fees.)
  • You will need to print your receipt at this time. If you do not print your receipt at this time, you will not be able to print it at a later time.
  • For additional information, please visit the Alcohol & Tobacco Commission web page.

Once you proceed again, just confirm your mailing address and hit continue. There is a set of 10 very easy questions that you need to answer. Fill these out and then continue. There will then be a final page that says “Pay Fees and Submit”. Proceed with paying for the permit. As stated above, print out your receipt and you can use this for 60 days or until the permit arrives in the mail.

Now that you have paid for your permit, you need to complete your server training within 120 days. You can start your training here. Simply sign in using the last four numbers of your SSN and your birth date. The training is very simple but can take upwards of 30-60 minutes so be sure to pay attention and have the time for it. Be sure to print out the certificate of completion and keep it in a safe place.

That’s it! Now it is just a waiting game. It typically takes about 2-4 full weeks to receive the actual permit in the mail. There really is no communication between when you pay for the permit and receive it, just a confirmation of payment and then you receive it in the mail so be patient! In the meantime you can use your receipt if you printed it out.

Happy pouring!

How I Got Started Homebrewing: Jenn Myers Howell

 

I started to drink craft beer in the late 2000s. In Chicago, I lived in a building with some of the world’s best neighbors. Two of my neighbors were in the process of opening a homebrew shop (Brew Camp) when they moved into the building. I shopped around the store, but I never took a class. I watched as they mashed and boiled in our shared backyard. I was fascinated by the process, but that was as close as I came at the time.

When I moved back to Indianapolis in 2012, I was still interested in learning to brew. Fortuitously, I met Erik, who had been brewing for years. When I mentioned my interest in learning, he offered to teach me. He taught me about BJCP style guidelines and showed me how to build a recipe. I didn’t know any differently at the time, but I completely skipped extract brewing (where most brewers start) and went straight to all-grain. Together, we made a s’more stout.

I spent weeks researching to build the recipe for my first batch. Once I settled on a style (Southern English Brown), I reviewed several publications to compare different recipes and recommendations. As I was developing the recipe, I also got great advice from the staff at Great Fermentations; Anita was especially encouraging—she recommended I enter into competitions for feedback before I’d even brewed the batch. I brewed my first batch in early 2013.

The batch came out great and I prepared to enter it into Upland Brewing’s UpCup and the Indiana State Fair Brewers’ Cup. Erik mentioned that UpCup was one of his favorite events, so I was especially excited to attend. I couldn’t believe my ears when they announced my name during the awards! My 221B Baker Street Brown was awarded third place overall in the competition, so I got some sweet prizes (including a case of Upland beer). I also remember trying Bloomington Brewing Co.’s 10-Speed Hoppy Wheat for the first time that day, which is a beer I’ve loved since.

Since that amazing introduction into homebrewing, I continue to refine my first recipe in addition to building new ones. Through homebrewing, I have been able to build some great relationships with fellow homebrewers and in the brewing community. When Erik and I were married, I knew the expectations for the beer selection at our reception were high; I am thankful that we could include delicious beer and cider made by friends. Because you can never do too much fermenting, I make cider and wine also. Nearly 5 years after my first batch, I’m working at FH Steinbart, the oldest homebrew supply store in the country. I’m also fortunate to have a supportive husband who doesn’t mind the 100 pounds of grapes currently fermenting in our living room.

How I Got Started: Jonathan Marting

As corny as it will sound, ever since my accidental (honest!) gulp of a family member’s beer at a relative’s birthday I’ve known that beer will always be a part of my life. I was way underage at the time; fourteen, if I’m being generous. Wouldn’t get another taste of beer until college. I drank the swill that is typical at college keggers. Disappointed in general with the options, but I of course kept doing it. Then somebody handed me a Killian’s Irish Red and my love affair with dark beer was born. Every party I went to was a chance to try a new style of beer (Mixer Sixers were a lifesaver). I quickly found ones that I would repeatedly come back to, such as Newcastle Brown Ale, Samuel (or Sammy as I like to call him) Smith’s Winter Welcome, Michelob Honey Lager and J.W. Dundee’s Honey Brown.

After I graduated college I moved back in with my parents in southeastern Indiana. They lived close to Cincinnati so I thought finding a job would be easier. Fast forward a couple of years and I’m still living with my parents and working at a dead end job that doesn’t pay me enough to live on my own. I went to a coworker’s party where she and her boyfriend revealed to me that they brew their own beer. Instantly intrigued and eager to dispel the image of a nasty bathtub full of beer, I asked all sorts of questions. They then tried to scam me by offering to go half and half on an ingredient kit from Brewer’s Best. The total cost they quoted me was $70. I trusted my gut instinct and said I wasn’t interested. Later my dad told me there used to be a homebrew store in Cincinnati somewhere. I looked into it and found a place called Listermann, pretty much across the street from Xavier.

It was a curious sensation entering that homebrew store for the first time. Overwhelming, yet accessible. Organized, but unkempt liked a well-used workshop. I would compare it to how the kids and parents felt when they first entered Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory just without all the whimsy. I probably spent an hour and a half just looking at everything. Eventually one of the store clerks offered to help me. I told him that I was very much interested in brewing my own beer but had zero ideas where to start. He helped me pick out an equipment kit which was the most expensive one they had, but it was also cheaper than the same kit is now (and well worth the price!). For an ingredient kit I chose Listermann’s kit for Irish red ale to honor the beer that set me down this path. At the checkout counter the store clerk, who was a middle-aged man missing a finger or two, gave me three pieces of advice that have stuck with me ever since:

  1. (For this one he jabbed the instructions for the ingredient kit with the stump of his right index finger which was severed at the first knuckle) Read the instructions. Front and back. Everything, including bottling. Go and do something unrelated for half an hour/forty-five minutes. Come back and read it all again.
  2. Take notes on everything you do. Especially if you think it will affect the flavor of the beer.
  3. Clean and sanitize everything.

Other than those three pieces of advice I was flying blind. My parents helped me, of course, but they had as much to go on as I did. What helped us was our collective experience in in the kitchen. That first beer kit ended up being a decent beer and I made many mistakes brewing it, but I kept brewing. Every time I went back to Listermann’s  I chose another style to try, which meant more notes, more equipment to wash, more instructions to read (twice!), and of course more experience. When I moved up to Indianapolis one of the first things I did was locate a homebrew store, i.e. Great Fermentations (there wasn’t an Avon store at the time). I kept the momentum going, always pushing myself to try something different. Last year I set about an annual challenge for myself. I’d ask my Facebook friends and family to suggest beers for me to brew, which were then voted upon. The one with the most votes would be the beer that I brewed, even if it was a style I didn’t really care for. And the challenge was for me to create the recipe, not brew an ingredient kit. I’ve had good results so far, but I’m always growing, always taking notes, always washing equipment, always reading and rereading instructions.

How I Got Started: Jeremiah Tyson

My entry into the homebrewing world was…let’s just say, slow. I bought a Mr. Beer kit and watched for years as it collected dust and eventually faded from my memory (I found it about 6 months ago randomly). I have always had an interest in the science aspect of it as well. I talked with a friend of mine from California who is a homebrewer, and had the opportunity to assist Jonathan Marting on several of his batches while I learned the process. All in all its been several years of learning, but I only just began brewing my own batches last year. I wanted to create something I knew I enjoyed but at the same time, satisfy the itch to perfect the craft that melds cooking and chemistry together. I am a particularly big fan of German festbier, probably due to my up close and personal exposure,  I think their process is also appealing to me. Once again, nobody is perfect but they strive for perfection with their process. So I particularly enjoy altbier, hefeweizen, and hellesbock. The altbier is probably my favorite to brew so far and I have a hefeweizen recipe I will be trying out for Big Brew Day!

Circle City Zymurgy at Union Jack’s 5th Annual Pumpkin, Cider, and Fall Beer Festival

Man, what a day! Circle City Zymurgy had a great time at Union Jack’s Pumpkin, Cider, and Fall Beer Festival. The event was completely sold out and had about 650 attendees. There were around 40 different vendors pouring delicious beverages with a total of 76 different, unique beers being poured.

CCZ had a great presence at the festival. Along with myself, other attending members were Steve Kent, Wes Martin, Jeremiah Tyson, and Allen Brown. We brought 5 kegs of homebrew. Wes brought his “Great Horse Pumpkin Ale”, Jeremiah his “Jack ‘O’  Porter (served on nitro), Steve brought his PSL – also on nitro, Allen had his near 15% mead, and we had Jonathan Marting’s Pumpkin Roll Ale.

In the end, we poured a total of 25 gallons of homebrew. Everyone that came up for a taste wanted to try something different and I believe we had a great variety for everyone to have something to enjoy  (I’m pretty confident in saying that based on the constant line we had!)

There were a total of 9 homebrewers that attended and we were all right next to each other. As you could imagine, we had great conversations discussing the hobby we love. This year, Union Jack also held a homebrew competition with the winner receiving a $100 gift card to Union Jack. A big congratulations is in order for our member Jeremiah for getting 2nd place for his Jack ‘O’ Porter!

The festival itself was a great time. We really could not have asked for a better day. The weather was perfect and really gave an exact feeling of what Fall is all about. As soon as you walked in you were given a choice of two neat glasses that you get your beer poured into. The festival had plenty of great food to keep you going during your beer trek. A few vendors such as Indiana on Tap were there as well supporting the hobby and offering free or discounted offers.

Elysian Brewing, based out of Seattle, Washington, had a great presence as well. They had their own little area where 6+ of their beers were served. Each of theirs had its own unique style and taste as well. With a big name like Elysian, I definitely had to try them all.

In conclusion, this was a very prosperous event for Circle City Zymurgy. I heard multiple attendees surprised that our beer was homebrewed, expecting it to be made at a professional brewery. I also had a few people walk up to me after seeing my shirt and asking where our beer could be purchased. You can’t get a much better compliment than that. This will definitely have to be an annual event for CCZ!

How I Got Started: Erik Howell

Let me start by introducing myself. My name is Erik Howell. I’m an Indianapolis native that recently moved to Portland, OR and have been brewing for just over 10 years. I love all forms of fermentation, and would consider myself a “maker/survivalist”. Haha. Sounds better than “doomsday prepper” doesn’t it? I first got introduced into craft beer in the early 2000’s when I was in college. There was a craft beer bar just down the street from my house called The Heorot Pub and Draught House that had an excellent selection of great beer from all over the country/world. They had a mug club that allowed you to get a special mug if you bought one of each beer they offered in the bar. I tried as many different beers as I could afford, however there was no touching that achievement 🙂

I remember a friend’s misfortune with his Mr. Beer kit in college, and I was absolutely certain I could do better. I ended up with the same Mr. Beer kit as a Christmas gift in ‘06 and went absolutely nuts. I did a bunch of reading (The Complete Joy of Homebrewing, How to Brew, Radical Brewing, etc) and went a little overboard on sanitizing. In the very beginning I was literally wearing a facemask and covering my countertops with Saran Wrap sprayed down with StarSan solution. It was like a scene out of Breaking Bad. My roommate at the time was super inspired, and footed the bill for a 5 gallon kit from Great Fermentations that I started using pretty regularly. I was an extract brewer for a long time (admittedly the first 5 years). The beer I was making was OK. I continued to acquire equipment and fine tune my brewing practices and things got much better over time.
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I started a small beer tasting group/blog in 2012 called Beer is My Passion or B.I.M.P. We organized blind tastings in an effort to educate ourselves about what we liked and disliked about different styles of beer. Later I formed a homebrew club out of the group, and started pouring homebrew at beer festivals. It was so much fun! Right about this time I met my soon to be wife Jenn, and we started brewing together. We got involved in competitions, more beer festivals, and networking in the Indy beer community. We were officially out of control. Soon we were branching out into cider, wine, pickles, etc. Beer turned into a gateway for all things fermented.

After a few years running BIMP, I found that many of my friends were more interested in the blind tastings than they were in brewing competitions. I was now working part time at my local homebrew shop, and was meeting other like-minded homebrewers that were also entering competitions. We were all competing independently even though we supported each others successes and failures. Ultimately this new group of brewers grew into Circle City Zymurgy. Now that I’m in Portland, I certainly miss my friends, the meetings, and social events that CCZ hosts. I still have a small hand in maintaining CCZ’s website, and still enter beers via our club. Recently I’ve been making various meads, wines, and beer in my new home. I’m hoping to build steam for the coming year’s competitions, and who knows maybe I’ll see some of you at NHC in Portland next year!