Let me continue to sum up …

May 7th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

The Black IPA we brewed in September was batch #23 for Shue’s Brews, and our 5th all grain brew.  We were finally starting to get a little comfortable with all grain brewing when this happened:

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Broken arm.  On vacation.

At least we were on our last day of vacation (rather than the first day) and doing what we love (mountain biking) when Nick broke his arm.   The “big break” happened in October and surgery happened in early November.  Even though we both consider ourselves “Shue Brewers”, the sad fact is, I cannot maneuver the 5+ gallons of hot liquor water, wort, etc that’s required for all grain brewing.  So, in November we conceded to an extract brew.

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We decided on a coffee porter using the same basic extract recipe we used in batch #11, but with different coffee this time.

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Its a pretty good porter, but we both agreed we liked it better the first time when we used Big Ring Coffee – Titanium Black.  This time, we used Starbucks French Roast.

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I’m sure we’ll brew another coffee porter as an all grain recipe sometime in the near future.  We’ve definitely gotten back in the brew swing lately.


Still getting our brew legs back under us, we went for another extract brew in March.  Since we (I) love all things Rye, we landed on a fairly simple Rye Pale.  Nothing much to note about that brew.  The beer turned out delicious.


Nick submitted this picture to a photo contest our LHBS was holding and it won!  Tiger tickets!  (I am pretty sure this was the only actual submission for the contest, but hey, we’ll take it!)


Which brings us to our Magic Zombie #9.  I’ve been wanting to do a Magic Hat #9 clone for awhile now, but we just never have for whatever reason.

Getting things ready.

Smells great.

First runnings.

We brewed this on Easter Sunday (Zombie day .. you know .. cuz dude rose from the dead .. ).

Boiling finally.

...and boiling.

It was a pretty uneventful boil.  The whole brew was pretty easy, actually.  I’d been a bit leery of all grain as we hadn’t gotten a good process down like we did for extract, but this went really smoothly.  And it was a beautiful day!  Bonus.

Into the fermentor.

Waiting on whirlpool.

This beer is now in secondary and I can’t wait to taste it.

You may notice our fermentor is not the typical glass carboy that we’ve always used.  We’ve had a few system upgrades since we lost touch.  There’s a whole post dedicated to that soon.  Promise.


PS: the Saison is gone, done, out.  We’ll be putting some sort of Belgian brew on our schedule for summer.

PPS: this still doesn’t catch us up, but our next brew deserves its own post.  SUSPENSE!

Let me sum up ..

April 22nd, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

When we last departed .. more than a year ago .. ShuesBrews had just taken its first All Grain adventure – and then we fell asleep.  Or something.

Actually, we’ve brewed 7 batches since then (5 AG, 2 Extract), acquired some new hardware and taken a few pictures.

The Brews: 

On April 21 we brewed a simple porter.

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This was our second AG brew and our 20th brew overall.

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It was a nice  basic porter.  We called this our Low Maintenance Porter because it had one simple hop addition at 60.  Kind of exactly the opposite of our first AG brew.

Sometime after that, we brewed an All Day (Founders) IPA clone.  I couldn’t find any pictures, nor an actual recorded date, but the temperature was apparently 43*, so I assume it wasn’t long after the porter.  I seem to recall we wanted to do two batches close to each other to try and get more comfortable with the AG process.   Since I have no pictures of the actual brew day, I will let you drool over this:

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(Big Woods Brewing – Nashville, TN)

In August, after drinking some delicious Saisons all summer, we decided to make our own.  We chose a Rye Saison recipe because we (I) love Rye beers.

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This beer was a hit.  We still have a little tiny bit on tap but it won’t last long.

In the fall, we were starting to get our AG legs a little steadier and went for a Black IPA.

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If I had my way, we’d pretty much always have a Black IPA and/or a Porter on tap.

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We drained this beer.  Black IPA is the sweet spot between Nick’s favorite beer flavors and mine.  If we were stranded on a desert island …..

Next stop .. All Grain ..

March 20th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Ever since we started brewing, Nick has wanted to brew all grain.  I needed a bit more convincing and a bit more time to really nail our brew process before we made it even more difficult.  After 18 batches brewed over at least a dozen brew days, we’d gotten pretty organized.  I was pretty sure I understood the basic process to brew all grain:  Grains in big cooler, cover in hot water to steep for an hour or so, drain, rinse with hot water from little cooler, boil.  Seemed easy enough.

And then Nick pulled me into a homebrew thread on Reddit and suddenly I had a million questions and was completely confused.

The good news is, its not really much more complex than: Grains in big cooler, cover in hot water to steep for an hour or so, drain, rinse with hot water from little cooler, boil.   Just a few more details to pay attention to.



We were trying to decide what AG to brew first when someone poured the last glass of  our  “Always Hopping IPA” which is a Dogfish Head 60 Minute clone we’ve made a couple of times.  The recipe we used to brew that beer with extract also had all grain directions.  I liked the idea because it would give us a sort of baseline to compare with.



We tried to hold our mash at 153* for the duration of the steep by adding some hot water a couple of times.  And cold water once when we added too much hot water.  In reality, we probably didn’t need to be so OCD with the temperature and could have done without any adjustments.  Noted for next time – our LHBS owner, friend and brew mentor says 148-152* is a good range.

We used a glass pitcher for Vorlauf and ran several pitchers before draining into our brew pot.  But, we were never really sure “how clear is clear” .  Some later research suggests that we should probably run continuously (we were shutting the valvue and pouring back in between each pitcher) for maybe a gallon or so (trial and error and different for everyone).  We did have some chunky particles in the bottom of the brewpot so we’ll think about that for next time as well.



We did a batch sparge.  When we decided we were done with the Vorlauf, we attached a hose and drained the first runnings into the brew pot.  When it ran out, we added the necessary volume of strike water to the mash tun, ran through Vorlauf again and then drained the second runnings into the pot for 7 gallons of wort.

While it seemed like a great idea to brew this “known” beer for our first AG session, the reality is, its a really high maintenance beer.  During the mash, we (by we, I mean Nick.  I had to run an errand) figured out the hop schedule for this “continuously hopped” beer and broke down the 3 types hops into 12 dixie cups marked in 5 minute intervals as per the recipe.



So, after getting through the “first time allgrainaparingomg” stress, it was time to start the high maintenance boil.  Every 2 1/2 minutes, we’d drop half the contents of a cup into the pot.   The first time we brewed this beer was in our old and much smaller brew pot.  It was also before we were introduced to the magic bottle of Fermcap-S and so we were constantly spraying with the squirt bottle and boiling over.  It was kind of a nightmare.  So much less nightmare with the new pot and the Fermcap-S … that stuff really is magic.



We finally reached the end.  We started setting up at 3:00, by 3:20 we were heating water to prewarm the mash ton and by 8:30 pm we were eating corned beef and cabbage that spent the day cooking in the crock pot.  Not bad really.  We’d gotten our extract brew process down to about 3 1/2 hours – so we added a couple, about what I’d expected.

I’m really looking forward to the next AG brew.  It was definitely better/easier/more interesting than I’d expected.




Brew Gathering

March 12th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Since the last general update, the Coffee Porter has long run out, and the Vegas Gold was serving.  In early February  Marty and I did a double brew weekend, after doing a long back road ride on our bikes in the morning.  So, starting in the late afternoon and into the evening, we brewed Raw Taint Tripel(#16) and Dog Tired Pale Ale (#17).  The Triple is a Cap’n’Cork kit, and the pale ale is a Wild Dog Pale Ale clone I found.

Last weekend, a couple of my brewing friends and myself decided to get together and do a group brew.  One of the gang decided to skip the brewing and just hang out, but the Erick drug his equipment over, and brew we did.
_MG_6549Since I had a short steep, and his was quite long, we decided I’d go first, so that we didn’t end up ending our boils at the same time.  In hindsight, that wasn’t a problem, and with his 50 minute steep and 90 minute boil, I finished far ahead of him with only a 15 minute steep and normal 60 minute boil.


The new sight glass on the brew pot was quit handy, and a good addition to the brew pot.  I’m very happy with how it’s working, and I can’t imagine needing anything else unless I decided to start brewing larger batches.  The only improvement I can see wanting is to replace the valve with a 3 part valve, so I can pull it apart for cleaning

Steve road his bike over from his house, and hung out drinking beer with us.  He ended wanted to stay longer then Danielle, so was a bit sleep deprived, but fortunately Erik and Katie were willing to drop him off at home when they left.  So, after running her first 5K that day, and then trying to stay warm by huddling around our brew pots, she left us to our brewing.
_MG_6586Erick was doing a Cap’n’Cork Double IPA kit, and it looked very yummy.  Will have to snatch a sample of that when he bottles it up.

_MG_6588Erick just got a new burner, and this was his first time brewing with it.  Using a 20PSI regulator and cranking out 185000BTUs, it’s quite the beast.  The burner I’m using is nice, but could stand a bit more horsepower.  Can’t say I didn’t covet his burner a bit, thus the name for our beer brew this weekend.  Burner Envy IPA(#18)


I’ve also been obtaining some igloo coolers and some hardware to convert the coolers into brewing hardware.  I’ve been working toward moving to all grain brewing, and next weekend could perhaps be when we take the leap.


Brew Pot Sight Glass

March 2nd, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

One of the brew pot enhancements I’ve been eyeing for a while is a sight glass, but it didn’t seem like something I felt like tackling.  Then, I recently ran across the website BrewHardware.com.   They had a really nice looking weldless sight glass kit and after watching the install tutorial video, I decided to order one and give it a try.  At under $30, the price wasn’t bad either.  I didn’t happend to have a step drill, so I picked one up off the website at the same time.

The instructions suggests getting the hold as low as you can, while staying on the straight vertical side of the pot.  The very bottom of my pot curves in a bit, so I used a straight edge to find the end of the curve, and marked the pot there with a sharpie.  I then measured the suggested 5/8″ up from there, and marked the center of my hole.

I had a bit of an issue getting the pilot hole started with the drill bits I had on hand, so I had to run out and grab a colbalt drill bit. Once I got that started, the step drill and a bit of cutting oil cut the required 9/16 hold perfectly.

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After cleaning up the hole, I test fitted the elbot and tube to the pot, and marked where I wanted to cut the tube, as it extended beyond the top of the pot.  Using a tube cutter, I was able to cut the majority if the way through the tube, and then snap it cleanly off.

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I was then able to refit the sight glass and hardware onto the pot, and then used a level to get the tube straight vertically.  I was then able to mark the hold for installing the eyebolt that holds the top of the tube straight.

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After installing the eyebolt, I then refit everything and tightened all of the fittings.  A silicon gasket seals the outside of the hold from leaking, so I made sure that was slightly crushed to seal everything up.

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I then filled the pot up one gallon at a time, and applied the included vinyl calibration marks, indicating each gallon level.  Was able to use this time to check for leaks, and everything looks good.  This will be a nice feature to have on the brew pot for future brew days.

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filling back up

January 14th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

As of this morning, I have the keezer full again.  The Always Hopping IPA (#14) was kegged and carbed last week, and was drinkable this weekend.  Turned out very nicely, still one of my favorite beers that I’ve brewed.  The aging is just about finished with the Oatmeal Milk Stout (#12), so I tossed the keg into the keezer this AM to start cold crashing the beer, and will probably start to carb it tonight or tomorrow.That will give us a full 4 taps serving again.

I suspect that the Coffee Porter isn’t going to be lasting for much longer, but the Vegas Gold (#13) should be just about ready to serve soon too.  I’ll probably get that into a keg this week for it’s final aging, and it’ll be ready to cold crash and carb as soon as a spot opens up.  The Fat Tire Snow Ryed (#15) is still bubbling away, but I suspect it’ll be ready for secondary sometime this week.

I still have the Tripple Trouble (CnC) to brew sometime soon, and I’m starting to make some plans for another brew soon.  Better to have some backed up beers in secondary then to have open spots in the keezer again.  Also looking at picking up the hardware to start to be able to do some bottling off the kegged beer.  For sharing and saving.


drinking and brewing

January 6th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Since I last posted, we have done some damage the been inventory, and found a few open spots in the keezer again.  Between time off for the holidays in Nov and Dec, and taking lots of growers to dinners and parties, we made quite a dent.  In the time that has past, we have emptied out the Hefe (#8), the Citra (#9) and finally hit the bottom of our cider, which was the first experiment in fermentation we ever did, before our first brew batch in fall of 2011.  The cider from the spring of 2012 had been aging for well over 6 months, so we get it in to a keg and carbed it.  We are trying to take our time with it, as we have no cider in the queue at the moment.  High prices and a busy fall means we never got around to doing a batch.  I plan on doing some reading about store brand ciders/juices that work well for fermenting, and hope to get something started soon.

So, currently, we have the Coffee Porter (#11) and the spring ’12 cider on tap.  But, we’ve been brewing a bunch, so there is a few batches sitting under the bench fermenting or aging.  In late November, we brewed a batch of Oatmeal Milk Stout, which is finishing up it’s 4 weeks of secondary aging in a keg right now.  That should be ready mid Janurary.  We’ve also did a blondish Vegas Gold (#13) kit from CNC, did another batch of the HMIPA (#14), the 60 Minute clone, and last night, we brewed up a batch of Fat Tire Snow Ryde (#15), which is a Fat Tire clone w/ rye added.

The HMIPA is just about ready to keg, and 2 other batches coming up mid-Jan, so we should be able to fill those empty spots pretty quickly.

Other other minor brewing notes are a cabinet in the basement to keep the brewing supplies, upgraded the brew bench by removing the warping chip board shelfs, and putting in some 5/8 ‘plywood shelves, using the higher quality ‘project’ indoor plywood.  I also put some stick on vinyl flooring squares on the top, to make the table top more waterproof.  I also expanded the chalk paint on the top of the keezer, to allow more room for writing.

Below are some pictures from last nights brew.  First time we’ve brew this late, or in the dark.


steeping the grains

steeping the grains


brewing in the dark

brewing in the dark


..and in the cold

..and in the cold


finishing up the brew

finishing up the brew







full keezer again

November 11th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

My father’s Godzilla (#10) has been in a keg waiting for pickup for almost a month, but he finally got it this past week.  He doesn’t have a keezer yet, so he’ll continue to age it till he does.

I finally got around to kegging the Coffee Porter (#11) this past weekend, and it’s been force caring this past week.  Friday was the first good pint I pulled, and I’m rather pleased.  Nice balanced coffee taste, and a smooth feel.  I took a growler over a friends house this weekend, and everyone found it enjoyable.  This one will go fast.

Nothing in the queue right now, and the keezer is full (Coffee Porter, Hefe, Fall 2011 cider, and Citra Pale.)  I also have the Spring 2012 cider in the carboy, waiting to step in when the other batch runs out.  But, I need to get some things in the queue.  With the Citra on the keg, I need to do something less hoppy (i.e, something that Marty will drink), then I can do a nice 60 minute clone again.  Perhaps that’ll be my first all grain?

getting another into the queue

September 16th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

WIth last weekend being a busy one for us, we didn’t get around to moving the batches out of primary, so we took care of that this weekend.  Both batches (#9 and#10) were a bit high on the FG, but I think they’ll turn out well despite.  I still struggle getting a good reading off a hydro, so I think I might invest into a refractometer.  My little bit of experience with them make me realize they’ll be easier to read, with less wort/beer being used also.

The HMIPA ran out already, so we’re getting another batch in the queue today.  Found a recipe for a coffee porter we’re going to be playing with.  Picked up the supplies on Friday, got our errands done for the day, and are going to fire up the batch in a little bit.  Perhaps some posted pictures from there later.

Also got 4 more corny kegs coming, so I’ll have a little bit more room to have some stuff ready and waiting to be tossed in the keezer.


September 2nd, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Yup, too busy drinking/brewing, not enough posting.

The HMIPA is in the keezer, and is quite tasty.  It’s defiantly a recipe I’ll try again.  Since then, I also did a 2nd batch of the Black Tornado hop stout for my parents 50th anniversary party. in July, and this past week, my father called me to tell me that the beer have runneth dry.  I also needed to get another batch rolling, so yesterday we did a double brew day.

Started about 10:30 with a batch of Citra Pale Ale from CNC.  It’s a nice pale recipe that uses only citra hops.  My father stopped by about the time we were finished with the steeping, and was putting the pot on the turkey burner to start the boil.  As something new this time, we also got some FermCap-S to prevent boil overs, and I have to say it worked out quite well.  Much less problems with foaming, and less chasing the foam down with a spray bottle of water.

Got that into the fermenter a bit into the afternoon, and grabbed some lunch from Seesburgers.  Wonderful sliders made fresh from fresh beef.  Yum.  My father is interested in starting to brew himself, so he stuck around for our send batch, so he could see a batch from start to finish.  So, after that, we started a 2nd CNC batch, the Godzilla IPA.  This was one of the recipes that cropped up during the hop shortage a few years ago, and uses unconventional hops.  Sorachi Ace, a japanese hop.  An uneventful brew, and we had that one wrapped up ~5PM.  A little more then 6 hours to do both batches, a pretty successful day.

On a coffee note, we just finished up a pound of Columbia from Dead River Coffee in Marquette (picked up while we were up there for the O2S race and vacation), and just brewed the first batch of their house Dead River blend this morning.  Enjoying the first cup right now.