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After nearly 3 years at the same address, Misery Mountain Brewing has moved to its own domain!

Please visit www.miserymountainbrewing.com to read the latest posts.  If you have been receiving email updates for new posts, you will have to re-enter your email on the new site, in the bar on the right of the page.  All the old posts have been moved over to the new site.

 

Misery Mountain Brewing is also officially joining the space age and tweeting about all things beer at @MiseryMtnTweets !   check it out at https://twitter.com/miserymtntweets

Check out the latest posts, and as always, thanks for reading!

Today I made a trip to Tired Hands, a new brewery in Ardmore, PA outside of Philly.

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They are only 6 months old, but have an impressive lineup of beers on tap.  Overall they are saison-centric, with a few other styles to offer as well.   They have 8 rotating taps, and do Growler fills, with plans to start bottling in the future.

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All around it was a great tap lineup- the highlights for me were the Single Hop Moktueka Saison, Uber Helles Lager and their 6 month anniversary beer, a sour grisette called Lil ol Lady. Here is the tap menu.

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And a picture of the Moteuka Saison- this one had a lot of hop aroma, sort of a mixture of guava and kiwi. I liked it a lot.
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I ended up taking home a Growler of the anniversary beer, and a half Growler of the Uber Helles, one of the more interesting and by far the hoppiest lager I’ve ever tasted.

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Here are a few more shots of the space. They also are serving some appetizers at the brewery, everything is sourced from less than 150 miles away, including the awesome bread they bake on site. Well worth a visit for excellent beers and a nice place to enjoy them in.

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This beer started off as a Belgian Tripel recipe, but things took a different turn after my brewing efficiency did not extract as much of an original gravity as expected, and the beer came out a little lighter.  The yeast was lagging after 3 weeks in the primary fermentation, so I raised the temperature to 75, then 80 Degrees and drove the gravity another few points, greatly improving the flavor as well.  I had set out wanting to make a Belgian Tripel, which according to the style guidelines needs to be at least 7.5% ABV…but based on the flavors I ended up getting, and the slightly lower ABV, it is really technically a Belgian Blonde Ale – some honey-like sweetness, a little spiciness from the yeast, and a golden hue.  And when I decided that a beer is only as good as it tastes, and style guidelines are really just a framework for that to happen in, the idea came to me to call it The 7% Solution – both in reference to the final ABV of this beer (which is after all, just a solution of barley) and in a roundabout homage to Sherlock Holmes.

14# Belgian Pilsner Malt

.5# Belgian CaraPils Malt

1 oz Fuggles Pellet Hops 5.1% AA, @ 60 Mins

1 oz Saaz Pellet Hops 3.0 % AA, @ 15 Mins

1# White Table Sugar @ 30 Mins

Wyeast 1214 Belgian Abbey II

2/3 Cup Natural Honey for Bottle Conditioning

O.G. : 1.060

F.G. : 1.008

ABV: 7%

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The sugar and aroma hops, ready to be added.

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Always try to enjoy some of the previous labor when brewing…Today I was enjoying a pint of my Misery Mountain Abbey Ale, an appropriate choice for the Belgian yeast and also an excellent fall beer, with hints of chocolate and amber malts.

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On bottling day I continued to try a new system of siphoning, giving up on the auto-siphon approach I have used for 2 years and instead just hooking a racking cane up to a rubber blow-off cap and some tubing.  this way, by blowing through the second hole in the cap (through wet sanitized paper towels) the beer fairly quickly flows up the racking cane and into the bottling bucket.  I like this setup because you can set the racking cane height pretty close to the trub at the bottom of the fermenter, and extract more beer without disturbing the yeast.

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Here is a shot of the beer, and in the carboy still- you can see how much the color changes, from deep orange in the fermenter to golden hay in the glass.

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Initial tasting at bottling gave me hints of bubble gum flavor, which I attribute to the last minute high temperature, as well as a nice variety of spicy yeast flavors, with a background flavor of bready malt.  My initial comparison was to the Pilsner I brewed last winter, which makes sense since the malt bills are very very similar.  But whereas the Czech Pilsner yeast highlighted the malt flavors and heavier Saaz hopping came out in the Pilsner, this beer is more about the unique flavors that the Belgian Yeast brings to the table.  I had used this yeast before for my Dubbel Dutch, and had been very pleased with the results, getting more dark fruit flavors that blended with the darker malts.
More notes on tasting to follow. Happy brewing out there

 

This year we pressed another batch of hard cider, following up on 2010 and 2011 hard cider pressings.  Unfortunately mother nature did not provide us with a crazy bumper crop like the last 2 years, and we had to make to with the Mac and few Northern Spy apples we could pick.  This year I also decided to experiment with picking the apples and aging them in the cellar for 3 weeks before pressing, which we did with a little less than half the batch.  This is intended to let the apples begin to ferment naturally, and let them sweeten up a little bit.  In retrospect, we should probably do this with all of them next year- the pressed aged applejuice was much sweeter than fresh pressed.  We blended everything together into 2 better bottles:

I have no pictures from the day, but my brother’s friend Maggie and her friend Liz graciously offered their help, and these:

As always it becomes a big group effort, and a lot of fun to pick, chop, mill, and press the apples.  We ended up with about 9.5 gallons this year, which I split into 2 batches, each with Lalvin Champagne Yeast.  I then carbonated one with 2/3 cup natural (and even local) honey:

and the other half with 2/3 cup Maple Sugar (not to be confused with Maple Syrup- Maple sugar is boiled down, crystallized maple syrup, and very very sweet).

So far the bottles have carbonated, and initial sampling shows a great, “freshly bitten into” apple aroma, though still with a bit of a sour twinge which makes me think we should age the whole crop before pressing next year.  Also this is extremely early to be drinking naturally carbonated cider, it generally needs a few months of aging before the flavors smooth out.  It will be interesting to see how the two batches develop parallel to each other.

The whole batch, pressed, fermented and bottled.  Even managed to cork a few bottles in there!  Happy brewing out there

 

This year I made another hop harvest pale ale, for the 3rd year running (2010, 2011).  This year I changed the recipe again, using a modified version of a Pale Ale recipe by Gordon Strong, published in BYO magazine.
7.5# 2row rahr pale malt
1# white wheat malt
.5# caravienne malt
.25# crystal 20L malt
.5 Oz Columbus pellet hops@60
.5 Oz Simcoe pellet hops@15
.5# wet fresh homegrown hops, mostly cascade, with nugget and zeus as well, added at 170 degrees while immersion chilling
Safale US-05 dry American Ale yeast

O G: 1.045
F G: 1.004
ABV: 5.5%

 

It was a pretty bad harvest this year, partially attributable to lack of rain.  I had enough to throw the entire harvest into 1 batch, for aroma hopping at least.  

 

A little libation helps with the harvest.

 

Barley and hops- this is where the beer begins!

 

 

 

I experimented using a few handfuls of wet hops in the mash, a technique known as Mash Hopping, in an attempt to give a more rounded, flavorful extraction of the hop bitterness.

I put the rest into a muslin sack, below, and dropped this into the keggle during the chilling persiod, leaving it in there until all the beer had been drained out into the fermenter- essentially making it a bootleg hopback.

Overall I am pretty pleased with this beer- the wheat gives it some nice heady foam, as well as a subtle toast flavor.  The hopping technique worked pretty well, though I would be interested next year to try and make a 100% homegrown hop beer- which would mean much more hops in the beginning, for bittering, to replace the pellet hops I used on this one.  This one is going fast- fresh hop beers taste best fresh!

Happy brewing

 

 

I recently was taken on a birthday camping weekend to Cooperstown, New York, home of many things, (obligatory mentioning of the baseball hall of fame, which we skipped) and of course Brewery Ommegang!  This was a trip I had been wanting to take for a long while, as well as try to squeeze in 1 more camping trip before the fall.

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Here’s a picture of the brewery nestled in the rolling pastures which surround it. We picked a pretty picturesque time to be there.
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One of the things that amazed me about their system is it’s relatively small size. They brew with a 3-shift team, 24 hours a day 5 days a week on a 50bbl system. That ends up being about 40k bbl/year.
Their 6 house beers all use 1 yeast, though we did get a brief glimpse into their yeast lab. One more trivia note: their 12Oz bottles may look identical to normal ones, but they’re actually much thicker to holds up to higher carbonation levels.
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after the tour, of course, we went to the tasting room, and enjoyed the flight of all the house beers. I had never had a lot of these beers on tap, and the freshness made a marked difference.
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we then moved on to the restaurant Ommegang operates on site, which serves a variety of Belgian foods. And of course, all the Ommegang beers and those which they import, such as Brasserie Achouffe and Liefmans. The food was superb, an excellent and fortifying late lunch of Belgian onion soup, mussels and frites, croque monsieur sort of thing and some Gnomegang beer, a high octane collaboration triple they did withAchouffe (I think).
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highly recommended to all beer lovers passing thru central NY..think I may try to make it back for Belgium Comes to Cooperstown next summer, their annual Belgian beer fest where you can come and spend the weekend.
Cooperstown also has a few other excellent micro breweries, 2 of which.edu visited- Cooperstown Brewing Co (recommended: IPA) & Council Rock Brewing Co (recommended: EXCELLENT light lager, and single hop Nelson IPA, plus great food). No pics from those two though, so I will close with a shot of Patty s and my campsite:
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Pretty good siting. Then the rain started, and it seemed like a good time to open up some of the fine beer and wines we had gotten throughout the day…and in fact it was.
Keep your eyes peeled for the new look on Ommegang bottles! Its different than the way they’ve run th for years but I think it looks good. I’m sure they’ll be relieved!

Golden Farmhouse Ale

This beer was the second of our Brooklyn Brewsers club beers, where several brewers made beers using the same yeast, then came together to compare results.  The first round we brewed with a version of the same yeast used at the Orval brewery (Misery Mountain Abbey Ale) and for this one we stayed with the Belgian theme, using White Labs 670 American Farmhouse Blend yeast.  This yeast contains Brettanomyces, so it will eventually sour into a “wild” beer after some time in the bottle.

8# Belgian Pilsner Malt

1# Belgian CaraVienne Malt

1# Rye Malt

1oz Fuggles Pellet Hops 5%AA @60 min

.5 oz Fuggles Pellet Hops 5%AA @10 min

.5 oz Fuggles Pellet Hops 5%AA @5 min

.5 oz East Kent Goldings whole cone hops 6.3%AA @ chilling

.5 oz East Kent Goldings whole cone hops 6.3%AA dry hop

WLP 670 American Farmhouse Blend Yeast

F.G.: 1.008 Final ABV 5.5%

The result was a light bodied Belgian Pale, or Blond, or Farmhouse Ale- a “Golden Farmhouse Ale”, a complement to the Summer Farmhouse Saison I made two years ago.  Not really sure where this one fits, but its tasty now, and I’m excited to see how the Brett yeast kicks in after some time.  The Rye malt adds a little spice, complemented with some earthy hop aromas.  I also bottled a case or so of this in Belgian corked bottles, which stylistically seemed about right.  Belgian yeast beers are just one of those things you should have on hand at all times.

Here is the haul from bottling this batch: about a case of Belgians and a case of 12-oz.

Happy Brewing and corking out there!

 

 

 

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