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Big day for Conan the Brewbarian! I moved the Vienna Lager from primary fermentation buckets to secondary fermentation carboys.  There was not much in terms of issues, but there is always a bit of hussle and bussle that goes on during any of the big days.  Also, as always, a good portion of the morning was spent cleaning and sanitizing equipment.

One of the awesome things is that I was able to get a good smell from the unfinished beer and it smelled very nice.  I am really excited for this one to finish.

From now until bottle day (or keg day for half of it), I will drop the temp 3 degrees per day until it gets in the lager rang (35-42 F if I remember correctly) and let it sit for about 3 weeks.  I hope the weather cooperates and we can keep the temps right until the beer is done!

 
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Two Sundays ago was brewday for Conan the Brewbarian and I ran into my first major issue with brewing.  You see, usually within 2 days of brewday, the chemical reactions between the yeast and the rest of chemicals should start to take hold and the airlock should start bubbling and releasing excess air.  That wasn’t happening.

Brew day was on Sunday afternoon and on Wednesday is when I really started getting concerned. I had been keeping it about 54 degrees F, which was on the lower end of the temp indicators and thought that perhaps raising the temp would give me something to try.  My thought was that perhaps it was just too damn cold.  A day went by… nothing.

Being Thursday, I was really starting to thing I had 10 gallons of dud.  I looked at the online forums and one thing they suggested was to open the containers and stir it up.  I did that, but I was not super aggressive.

I checked it on Friday and nothing.  I stopped by my local brew shop Country Cannery and talked to the fellow there.  He was sort of at a loss as well, but he suggested opening them up again and really mixing them well.  While there, I also picked up a few extra packets of a yeast, as that would have been my last ditch attempt at saving this batch of beer.

I get home and raise the temp up a bit more in our garage to the upper limit of the lager.  I also, opened up the two containers where I was keeping my brew and vigorously stirred if for several minutes.  This was it… almost at the edge of losing the entire batch.

The next morning, I started to see a little bit of foam in the glass carboy.  By Sunday the brew was going full swing and all is right with the world!

There is a lesson for me to learn from this.  While I am not 100% why the batch was not going, it would seem to have to do with some combination of air and/or temp.  What I need to make sure of on future brews is that I take the time to make sure the beer is aerated enough.  Do not JUST mix, but spend time making sure everything is completed.

 
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Last Sunday, I had embarked on my most recent brewing adventure with Conan the Brewbarian.  There are two unique items about this brew compared to the previous.  First, this is my first lager and while that may not make much of a difference, I am relying on the temperature outside to remain somewhat cold of over the next month.  It is something just a little different than I have done before. Secondly, I am brewing a double batch on this go around, so that may add some complexity to this brew.  The following is an overview of what went on last Sunday.

  • Clean up my mess of a kitchen!  One thing about brewing is that you need to keep everything clean and sterilized.

Need clean area for homebrewing

  • Get all of the brewing equipment and ingredients in one place.  Like a surgeon, I want all of my instruments in one place.

Gather homebrew equipment

  • Boil the Sack.  This kit came with some grain ingredients that needed to be steeped in warm water.  I simmered this in the water, making sure to keep it within the temperature range.

steeping grain wort homebrew

  • Get the rest of the ingredients together and prepare for use.  Here we have some dry malt extract, liquid malt extract and corn sugar.  Also, there are some hops to add to this wort at the beginning and some UK Fuggle for the finishing hops.

Dry amd wet equipment

Finishing hops for homebrew

  • Boil the wort for an hour with adding the finishing hops in the last 5 minutes

Wort is boiling for homebrew

  • Cool the wort.  The goal is to cool the wort as quickly as possible.  There are wort coolers that can help, but I opt for the iced sink option.  Meanwhile, get the yeast ready for pitching.

Homebrew cooling wort

  • When the wort is cooled, add it to the fermentation bucket and then add enough water to bring it to the correct gravity or what the kit indicates.
  • Pitch the yeast
  • Aerate aerate areate
  • Seal the container with an airlock and set wait for it to start fermenting.

Glass Carboy for homebrewing

It has been a full week since I did this and had a bit of drama on the way.  I will update you on the drama in a future post.

 
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In light of Arnold Schwarzenegger being the star of Conan the Barbarian, I have decided to make this homebrew a Sam Adams logoVienna Lager style of beer and have a brew kit on the way. As I have done with my previous two beers, Bock to the Future and Project Amadeus) I have done some investigation of this particular style and hope to learn something, as well as share my knowledge, along the way. Conan the Brewbarian is destined to be a Vienna Lager!

The first thing I noticed while looking at this style, is that Samuel Adams‘ (one of my favorite over all breweries) flagship beer is a Vienna Lager.  From the large breweries, we also have Dos Equis and Leinenkugels making a showing with their own version of this style of lager.  In addition to the “majors”, Great Lakes brewing has a popular Vienna Lager named Eliot Ness and Schell makes Firebrick.

The second thing I noticed, and is related to the brewing , is that this is a lager instead of an ale.  I have not made a lager yet and the primary issue with making a lager over an ale is the temperature.  A lager traditionally needs cooler temperatures while fermenting.  Fortunately (at least for beer making), I live in a part of the country that gets cold in the winter.  I also happen to have a heated, and temperature controlled, garage.  I should be able to keep the temperature within range during the time frame where this is important.  Also, according to the instructions I found online, the yeast WILL actually perform fairly well at higher temperatures, so that is a good fail safe.  With it being almost March, the warming spring season could be a consideration for me.

This also has a secondary fermentation, like Bock to the Future.  This is not new to me, but perhaps I can learn bit more or execute a bit better on this go around.

Finally, when reviewing the history of this style of beer, I found it has an interesting past.  The Vienna Lager is one the first Pale Lagers that was made by a fellow named Anton Dreher in 1840-1841.  These original pale lagers lead the way to what would be the most dominate Pilsner styles of beer today.  The techniques used in the Vienna Lager helped lead the way for the Budweisers and Millers of today.

Anton Dreher

Anton Dreher – Creator of Vienna Lager

Interestingly enough, the Vienna Lager, while originated in Vienna and Austria, is not commonly brewed in Vienna any longer.  Austrian immigrant brewers brought the style to Mexico in the late 1800s, where examples of the style can be found today.

I am excited to try a new style of beer and, once again, you all have led me in this direction!  Thank you for joining me on this little journey!

 
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While this blog is mostly about beer, it also has a movie element to it and what better night than Oscar night to talk about He-Man Conan the Barbarianmovies. IT IS OSCAR NIGHT!  Tonight, we will forget about Conan the BREWbarian and just talk about Conan the Barbarian… and maybe He-Man.

My wife, Ashley, and I have been trying to watch all of the films that have won Best Picture in (almost) chronological order, first to most recent.  We are currently at 1956 and Around the World in 80 Days.  We have both seen many of the newer winners, but it has really opened our eyes to just how terrible we used to be at making movies.  On the other hand, we have been exposed to some really awesome movies that I would not have otherwise have watched.  To date, my favorite has been Marlon Brando’s On the Water Front.  While Conan the Barbarian may not have won an Oscar, I thought that I might review some movie history and trivia in regards to the 1982 classic Conan the Barbarian.  Here you go… some trivia and highlights for the movie Conan the Barbarian:

  • There is apparently a NEW Conan the Barbarian in the works….. starring Arnold!
  • Conan the Barbarian, surprisingly enough, did NOT win best picture in 1982.
  • James Earl Jones played the role of Thulsa Doom, the 1000 year old sorcerer that Conan eventually beheaded.  While Jones’ role in Conan was important, his most important role of all time was that as the voice of Darth Vader – FACT!
  • Conan the Barbarian grossed over $100 million in worldwide movie ticket sales, but has brought in over $300 million in sales in the 31 years since it debuted in theatres.
  • Rumor has it that Mattell started making action figures for Conan, but after realizing that the movies was so violent and bloody and associated with sex, they could not align themselves with the movie.  They reportedly reworked the action figure to have blond hair and with a few minor tweaks – He-Man, Master of the Universe was born!
  • Conan’s first lines are 20 minutes into the movie.
  • Vodka was added to the fake blood in the movie to keep it from freezing.  Cast members, instead of spitting out the blood when directed, would swallow and go back for more.
  • Charles Bronson, of Death Wish fame, was also considered for the role of Conan.

There you have it movie buffs…. Enjoy the Oscars

 

 
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With an astounding 30% of the votes, Conan the Brewbarian will be the name of our next homebrew.  I am pretty excited about this Conan the Barbarianchoice, not only because Conan the Barbarian is a movie I really liked as a kid, but also because I think it opens up some very interesting and fun options for the beer style and the label.

In terms of beer style, it would seem appropriate that I take something from the movie and make it a part of the process.  Arnold Schwarzenegger was the main actor in Conan the Barbarian and he is known, partially, for his accent.  It happens to be an Austrian accent.  The capitol of Austria is Vienna.  There just so happens to be a beer style called Vienna Lager.  This seems like a totally appropriate style for Conan the Brewbarian.  And WOW… the blind taste test on this one just is not going to be fair for me.  Sam Adams (by FAAAR my favorite large brewery)?  Leinenkugels Red?  I am toast.

While the Vienna Lager seems appropriate, I have to do a bit of digging.  This will be the first lager I make.  I am totally up for the challenge, which part of this blog is about, but I just want to make sure I can execute.  While my final decision on style has yet to be made, this is the direction I am going.

A label does not make the beer, but it sure is an opportunity to add some flair to this craft that takes some patience. While the beer is fermenting and aging, hopefully you all and myself can help devise a label for this little gem.  If there is such a thing as ‘doing the internet wrong’, I think it may come from the final product of this label, as I have already half decided that I am going to be in this label.  You know, something to make my mom and future employers proud!

There you have it….. Conan the Brewbarian is a thing.

 
 
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MY FIRST BLIND TASTING!  I have to say that I think it went really well.  I pitted my home brew, lovingly called Bock to the Future, against a worldwide recognized Weizenbock from Ayinger.

To get straight to the chase…. One person out of three preferred Bock to the Future over Ayinger’s Weizenbock.  I consider this quite the success and am very happy that I was able to put this little blind tasting together.

I wanted more than one Weizenbock, but I could not find any other brands than Ayinger.  I had actually found one a few months ago and purchased it, but I sacrificed it to my face.  I had figured that I would be able to find more kinds in the middle of winter, as Weizenbock is traditionally a winter beer.

Here is the how the blind tasting took place.

  1.  In a separate room, pours were made into two small taster cups labelled with A (Ayinger) and B(Weizenbock)
  2. I had given the three testers the style guideline sheet from the BJCP, but I told them that I wanted them to judge this based on which one they liked better and not necessarily how well it met the standards.
  3. I brought the samples into the room and each participant was given an A and a B.  I asked them to try each, write comments about each and indicate which one they liked better.

 

Here are the results:

Person 1  – This person liked mine better and gave the comments “Good Initial taste” and “Very Smooth” on Bock to the Future.

Person 2 – Liked the Ayinger better.  Of Bock to the Future, this person wrote “Sweet”, “ends tangy and bitter end”, “smells stronger”

Person 3 – Liked the Ayinger better.  This person said “Licorice/Allspice/banana”, “darker”, “Deep, complex spice notes”, and “creamy”

I will likely do this sort of tasting again and really appreciate all of the people who helped.  I am also really happy that someone chose my beer!  Now, all I have to do is finish drinking Bock to the Future and sharing it with my friends!

 
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Alright people, I have finished brewing and bottling Bock to the Future!  I had no individuals who submitted a label, so everybody will be subjugated to my MAD MAD MS Paint skills.  Maybe on the next go around, someone will want to win a few of my beers.  Here you go!

Bock to the Future homebrew

 
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Hey all! First things first… I transferred Bock to the Future from primary fermentation to secondary.  I only have the one food bucket that came with my kit, so I had to empty it into my bottling bucket and then clean/sanitize my primary fermentation pale.  Then I had to transfer it back.  While I am not sure how good all the exposure is for the beer, it seems to have gone well.  Bock to the Future should be ready for bottling right after Christmas and ready soon after the new year.  Just in time for some of my yearly ice fishing trips!

Alright, I have been meaning to get a bit more in depth on some of the breweries and beers I liked from the Great American Beer Fest.  I will do this again in the future, but thought I would share some of the things that we really liked.

Deschutes Brewery -  Jubel 2010 – Fairly easy brewery to find if you are in the midwest to the west, but this specific beer may not be so easy to find.

Barley Browns Brew PubPallet Jack – Well, I am pretty sure the only way I will ever taste this is when I go to the GABF again.  Small brewery, but Pallet Jack was a hit in our book.

Bear Republic BreweryRacer X Double IPA – Available on either coast, but not for us folks in the midwest.  Bear Republic can be found in Montana, but not ND.  ;(

Brooklyn Brewery – We tried several of their beers and they all were good in my book.  One thing to note about these guys is that the brew master, Garrett Oliver, served his beer at the GABF and was in a suit and tie.  I think this guy works like a madman and I appreciate that he stood out to serve us beer!  That was really awesome and he stood out, not to mention he made a good beer.

Full Sail Brewing – They had a barley wine that I cannot find online, but was awesome!  We, here in ND, do get Full Sail beers, but doubt we will be able to find the barley wine, but I guess that is what the GABF is for, to try new things.

There will be more to come and I hope you enjoyed.