Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sour Kvass Tasting

We weren't surprised when the kvass we brewed based on East End's recipe went sour, with the minimal hopping, low gravity starchy wort, and bread yeast it was something we suspected might happen.  Luckily a low gravity, lightly hopped beer makes for a good base for sour flavors (as we tasted at East End in a sample of unintentionally sour Kvass). 

East End Kvass Clone

Appearance – Surprisingly clear (but still slightly hazy) pale orange. The thin white head floating on top has poor retention. The beer has gotten much clearer over the last few weeks as the yeast and the starches from the bread have slowly settled to the bottoms of the bottles.

Smell – Caraway is the first thing I get, as well as a yeasty/bready malt character. There is a sour, yogurtish component to the aroma as well.

Taste – Tangy lactic acidity followed by warm bread crust maltiness. The caraway comes in the finish, but it isn't as strong as in the aroma. The acidity isn't especially strong, just enough to make for a bright, interesting beer.

Mouthfeel – Medium body, with moderate carbonation. The body is thicker than you'd expect for such a low gravity beer.

Drinkability & Notes – A refreshing beer that is easier to drink than the highly acidic Berliner Weisses that I tend to make. I'd be interested to see if this method (minimal hopping and fermenting with bread yeast, could work for other sorts of low gravity sours).

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Brewing Kvass at East End

East End Brewing doesn't look like much on the outside.On a hot Friday night in July, Nathan and I made the four hour drive to Pittsburgh to assist at East End Brewing (and eat and drink our way around the oft overlooked city for a few days).  That weekend was my first trip back to the city since graduating from CMU in 2005, not counting a quick lunch break during a drive to Ohio a year earlier. 

I'd emailed back and forth with Scott (the brewer/owner of East End) while I was getting ready for my first attempt at brewing a version of his kvass a few years ago, so I was really looking forward to seeing his process in action.  I even brought the final bottle of my Sourdough Kvass to share with Scott; sadly the various microbes from the culture had been slowly working during their two years in the bottle causing me to spray him with most of the beer...

Making bread goo the night before brewing.Our Monday morning brew was preceded by a Sunday evening of slicing up rye bread and mixing it with hot water to soak overnight.  The brew was a bit on edge, between the pump struggling to lift enough kvass to fill two barrels in the attic, and Scott's glycol cooling system being in the process of dying.  However, we were able to complete the brew and get the wort (bread goo and all) chilled and transferred.

Scott rewarded our hard work (squishing bread and scrubbing kettles) with a sample from a recalled keg of the accidentally sour kvass he made a few years earlier (something he hopes to recreate and enhance with the barrels in the attic).  While we talked about his series of session ales and future expansion plans for the brewery he opened bottles of Illustration Ale (a caramelly Belgian strong dark), and Gratitude (his wonderfully smooth barley wine).

East End Kvass on the left, Russian Kvass on the right.A few weeks later Brian (who we'd stayed with while we visited Pittsburgh, and whose wonderful wife Dayna had driven the three of us around town) sent us a growler of the batch we'd helped to brew.  The beer was murky, with a bold caraway aroma and a bready body despite the low alcohol.  It was that rare sort of beer that is complex and unique while remaining light and drinkable.  We tried it along side a can of Russian Kvass, which was more like raisin-malt soda than anything else (All Star Bakery makes the only passable low/no alcohol version I've tried).

Scott cleaning out barrels before filling them with kvass.A few weeks after returning to DC we brewed a beer based on Scott's recipe, with a loaf of sourdough rye I baked substituting for the loaves from Wood Street Bread Co used in the original.  The beer turned tart quickly as a result of the bread yeast, minimal hopping, and warm fermentation.  Making this beer is a gamble, my first two attempts at the concept were fermented cooler and didn't sour. If you don't want a sour beer adding more hops would help as well (10 IBUs would give some protection without being noticeably bitter).  Luckily the recipe works well with a bit of sourness, sort of like a Berliner Weisse with a splash of kummel (something Michael Jackson mentions in his Great Beer Guide as an alternative to the iconic sugary red and green syrups).

Gratitude waxing station in East End's attic.We sent a more detailed article about the time we spent at East End and Kvass in general to BYO (subscription link) a couple weeks ago, it should be appearing in the November or the December issue.  Over the next couple weeks I'll post the recipes for the two other versions of kvass we brewed as well.

I'd also like to thank the people who came out for the event at Beer Table on Monday night, it was nice to put some faces to names (and taste some excellent homebrews).  It sounded like people really enjoyed this batch and the other kvasses we brought.

East End Kvass

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal): 5.25
Total Grain (Lbs): 7.00
Anticipated OG: 1.036
Anticipated SRM: 6.7
Anticipated IBU: 1.5
Brewhouse Efficiency: 74 %
Wort Boil Time: 35 min

78.6% - 5.50 lbs. German Pilsener
14.3% - 1.00 lbs. Rye Malt
7.1% - 0.50 lbs. Brown Malt

0.10 oz. Willamette (Pellet, 4.50% AA) @ 30 min.

1.00 Whirlfloc @ 8 min.
6 g Caraway @ 30 min.

Fleischmann's Dry Bread Yeast (East End uses Red Star)

Water Profile
Profile: Washington DC

Mash Schedule
Sacch Rest 45 min @ 152
Mash Out 30 min @ 164

Brewed 8/22/10 with Brian and Nathan at Nathan's house

The rest of the bread and water made it into the kettle.Mashed at 152 added some boiling water to bring the temp up before running off the first runnings. Batch sparged with ~2 gallon of water.

3 g Willamette and 6 g ground caraway added at the start of the boil along with 1 gallon of water with a loaf of home baked sourdough rye bread that had been soaked overnight in 190 degree water then pureed with a stick blender.

Chilled to 75. Aerated with pure oxygen for 20-30 seconds. Added ~1/4 g of Fleischmann's dry yeast, did not rehydrate. Left in Nathan's basement ~75-80.

Bottled 9/24/10 with 4.5 oz of corn sugar. Formed a pellicle and developed a clean crisp sourness. Gravity was a bit higher than expected at 1.011.

10/28/10 The beer turned out well, and the sourness and carbonation seem to be stable.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Cherry Flanders Red Tasting

This sour beer started life two and a half years ago as a five gallon batch, that was back before I bought a house, shortly after I met Audrey (and right after she stopped talking to me for a year).  Two years ago it went into a red wine barrel with 55 gallons of beer brewed by my friends (two of whom have since moved away).  A year ago we racked the beer out of the barrel, with four gallons of my share going onto two pounds of local sour cherries.  Six months ago I bottled it.

A lot of time and effort has gone into making this liquid, makes for a contemplative beverage. 

Cherry Flanders Red on my new kitchen countertop.Sour Cherry Flanders Red

Appearance – Clear reddish brown. Thin off-white head, good retention despite the age and hard work of the bacteria and wild yeast.

Smell – Dried sour cherries, hints of balsamic vinegar, and maybe some aspirin.  Mouthwatering, or should I say saliva inducing (like smelling a grapefruit).

Taste – The first sip is electric, bright acidity, sharp cherry funk. I can feel the acid on my lips, the roof of my mouth, and all over my tongue. The finish is nicely malty, with just a touch of acetic acid. The cherries are juicy and at just the right level, playing with the malt and Brett funk, but not obscuring them.  Not much sweetness remains, but it isn't completely dry.

Mouthfeel – Medium-low carbonation on a moderate body. Any more carbon dioxide and this one could have been too thin/harsh, but it is fine as is.

Drinkability & Notes – Certainly one of the better sours I've had a hand in making, not much I would change about it. The aggressiveness reminds me of my first bottle of Cantillon six years ago (a 375 ml of Rosé De Gambrinus that took me about two hours to finish), my taste buds have gotten more accustomed to the acid since then.  I'm glad I've still got about a case of this left in the basement.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Sour Leipziger Gose Recipe

Coriander, salt, and hops.While the BJCP recognizes 74 beer styles (not including the catch-all categories) there are many more that could be given the full homebrew competition treatment.  Some of these are still evolving, such as Black IPAs (aka Cascadian Dark Ales) and American Wild Ales.  In these cases craft brewers and homebrewers are producing many examples of the styles, but there is too much within style variation to consider them cohesive styles in the same way that Bohemian Pilsner or Belgian Tripels are.  There are other styles (Rye IPA, Kellerbier) that haven't made the cut because while they don't have too much variation they simply aren't popular enough to warrant separate categories (like Southern English Brown Ale...).  As a result these styles languish in the Specialty Beer and Belgian Specialty Ale categories (when the simple act of creating categories for them would cause more people to brew and enter them).

Gose is another example of a beer style that is largely ignored brewers.  It is one of those grand historic beers that was popular in its day (~1900), but these days doesn't receive as much attention as its close cousins.  A tart, salt and coriander laced wheat beer is something you'd expect to taste from Belgium, not Germany (which I suspect is part of the reason it hasn't benefited from the same boost other sour beers have gotten).  As the Gose style stands today it falls roughly between Berliner Weisse and Belgian Wit, but with a salinity that adds to its unique character and quaffability on a warm day.

Gose production ceased for a couple decades after the end of WWII, but has since been revived in its adopted hometown of Leipzig, as well as more recently in the USA (Hollister Brewing's Tiny Bubbles just took silver at the 2010 GABF in German Style Sour Ales, and several other brewpubs mostly in Colorado and Oregon brew versions as well).  Leipziger Gose from Bahnhof, the lone German example I've seen imported to America, is fine but never has enough acidity to really grab my attention (much like the majority of German Berliner Weisses). 

Audrey looks like she is enjoying adding the hops just a bit too much. Audrey and I stopped by Raccoon Lodge (Cascade Brewing) and tried their version of the style during our trip to Portland.  The brewers there make four different variants each year, one for each season.  We got to try both the summer (with the standard combo of coriander, salt), and the winter (with cranberry, hibiscus, and orange peel).  Each was excellent, with a clean, but potent lactic acidity that complemented their unique flavors.

While Audrey was visiting DC over Columbus Day weekend we decided to brew something along the lines of Cascade's Summer Gose.  The grain bill was comprised mostly of malted wheat with the remainder being pils, melanoidin (for added bready/malt flavor), and a couple ounces of acid malt to hold the pH of the mash down. The restrained bitterness was provided by a small addition of Saaz hops near the start of the boil.

For the spice I bought a bag of coriander from Patel Brothers (an Indian grocery store chain that I wasn't aware was a chain until I just went looking for their website).  The oblong Indian variety of coriander has a fruitier less citrus/vegetal aroma than the stuff you get at the supermarket (plus at only $2.99 for 14 oz it is really cheap).  We pulsed .5 oz of the seeds in a coffee grinder and added them near the end of the boil.  To replicate the naturally saline water of Leipzig we added .5 oz of sea salt to the boil, I'm planning on adding more to taste at bottling (better to err on the low end to start).

That fermentation is just from the Lacto, ~12 hours after pitching.My friend Matt gave me a culture of Lactobacillus which I had grown up at ~100 F in a weak DME solution for four days before brewing.  We racked the wort into the fermenter and pitched the Lacto once the immersion chiller got it down to 90 F.  The next morning there was visible activity so I aerated the wort and and pitched one pack of US-05 that I had rehydrated in 95 F water for 5 minutes (I don't normally rehydrate dry yeast, but with the acidity I wanted to make sure the yeast didn't stumble out of the gate.)

Hopefully with our first attempt at the style we'll end up with a beer that fits our tastes.  If you want to read more about Gose I'd highly recommend picking up a copy of Stan Hieronymus's Brewing with Wheat (you could also read this article he wrote: First of all, it’s pronounced goes-a).

What Gose Round

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal): 5.00
Total Grain (Lbs): 9.41
Anticipated OG: 1.053
Anticipated SRM: 4.6
Anticipated IBU: 10.3
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75 %
Wort Boil Time: 90 Minutes

63.8% - 6.00 lbs. Wheat Malt
31.9% - 3.00 lbs. German Pilsener
2.7% - 0.25 lbs. Melanoidin Malt
1.7% - 0.16 lbs. Sauer(acid) Malt

0.75 oz. Czech Saaz (Pellet, 3.50% AA) @ 60 min.

14.00 g Indian Coriander @ 5 min.
14.00 g Sea Salt @ 5 min.

Safale US-05

Water Profile
Profile: Washington DC

Mash Schedule
Sacch Rest 90 min @ 149

10/5/10 Pint starter made from DME, cooled to ~90 then pitched Lacto culture from Matt, used heating pad to keep it close to 100 F.

Brewed 10/9/10 with Audrey

Batch Sparged, collected 7 gallons of 1.040 wort. Slight boil-over.

Indian Coriander, coarse grind in a rotary coffee grinder.

Trader Joe's French sea salt.

Chilled to 90, racked to fermenter and pitched 1 pint of lactic acid starter. Left at ambient basement temp ~70 F.

Good activity after 16 hours, shook to aerate and pitched 1 pack of rehydrated US-05.  Strong CO2 production within a couple hours.

10/15/10 Fermentation appears to be about complete.

1/05/11 Bottled 4.25 gallons with 3 5/8 oz of table sugar.

2/16/11 Turned out pretty well, but not as sour as we wanted.  If you want it sour cut the hop addition in half to reduce the IBUs to about 5.  If you want to taste the salt I would probably double the addition, but remember you can always add more.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Undiluted Sake Tasting

After tasting a bottle of the carbonated portion of my batch of sake last week, I thought it was also time to give the same treatment to a bottled of the cleared, full strength sake.  This portion of the batch was left at an undiluted ~18% ABV and fined with bentonite, and then pasteurized before bottling.  The results are just too boozy for me without the big complex fruity aromatics that sake needs (since there isn't much character from the rice).

Undiluted Sake

I put the glass on a white background for the picture so you can get a better idea of the true color of it.Appearance – Perfectly transparent grassy yellow (higher grade - more polished - rice would yielded a clearer sake). No head or carbonation evident, but there are legs slowly dripping down the sides of the glass.

Smell – Light grainy aroma with some apparent alcohol. Not as much going on as in the carbonated sake (which suggests Bob was right in telling me that the toasty/yeasty character was from the Champagne yeast I added for carbonation). Lacks the fruity ester character of the high end sakes I've tried.

Taste – Light sweetness with a lingering warming alcohol. I wouldn't call it hot, but it is certainly boozy. Not much character, sadly it isn't too far off vodka cut with water.

Mouthfeel – Medium-light body, dead flat.  There is a certain refined crispness to it that you'd never find in a beer this strong.

Drinkability & Notes – Really clean character, especially considering the high alcohol content. That said, there just isn't anything in the flavor or aroma to keep me drinking.  Might be worth using in a mixed drink (maybe I'll adding herbs/spices/hops to some of the bottles...)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Adding Fruit to Beer Increases Alcohol? (Rant)

Belgian holiday ale with sour cherries.It really bothers me to hear people talk about the boost in alcohol a beer receives from a fruit addition.  In most cases fruit won't increase the percent alcohol of a beer, and if you're adding fruit to a strong beer it will actually lower the final alcohol content.

The issue is that many people mistakenly assume that they can determine how much gravity the fruit will add by calculating the amount of sugar it contains.  The problem with this method is that in addition to sugar the fruit also contains water (which dilutes the alcohol/sugar already in the beer).  In fact, most fruits have a similar sugar content to a standard gravity wort, between 1.040-1.060.  There are some exceptions, for example in a couple days I'll be getting 5 gallons of Cabernet Sauvingon grapes (to add to sour beers) that have a sugar content of 22 Brix (1.092).  Concentrated and dried fruit are another exception because most of their water content is removed during processing. 

To correctly determine the impact on the alcohol content of adding fruit you need to determine the effective brix/plato of the beer.  To calculate this you need four pieces of information:

1. Weight of the fruit (not including pits/stems/seeds).

2. Brix/plato of the fruit (from a refractometer or packing info).

3. The original brix/plato of the beer (OG reading).

4. The weight of the beer (based on the current volume, but the density of the wort before fermentation.  This can be determined by using the following formula: weight of the beer = original gravity of the beer x volume of the beer x weight of 1 gallon of water)

Effective Brix/Plato = (Weight of beer x Brix/Plato of beer + Weight of fruit x Brix/Plato of fruit) / (Weight of beer + Weight of fruit) 

For example if you have 4.5 gallons of 11 P (1.044) beer it would be 1.044*4.5*8.35 = 39.2 lbs of beer onto 10 lbs of 14 P cherries, the effective OG would be (39.2*11+10*14)/(39.2+10) = 11.61 P.  That is to say the increase in the effective starting gravity was .61 P, enough to boost the alcohol by .3% ABV assuming the same FG (about the same increase in alcohol from the priming sugar). 

Flanders Red with blackberries.On the other hand if you add the same 10 lbs of 14 P cherries into 4.5 gallons of 25 P (1.106) Imperial Stout you would have 1.106*4.5*8.35 = 41.6 lbs the equation would be: (41.6*25+10*14)/(41.6+10) = 22.9 P, a drop of 2.1 P, enough to reduce the alcohol by 1.1% ABV assuming the same FG. 

These two examples demonstrates a key insight, if the gravity of the fruit is lower than the original gravity of beer the addition is going to lower the effective original gravity and thus reduce the ABV (and conversely if the gravity is higher it will raise the effective original gravity and similarly the ABV). 

In general fruits provide sugars that are more completely fermentable than malted/mashed grains, so even with the same OG you may end up with a lower FG and thus marginally more alcohol.  That said, if you determine your effective OG this difference will be included in your ABV calculations when you take the FG reading. 

While you can go through all that work to get a slightly more accurate measure of the alcohol in your beer, the main point of this whole rant is that the change in alcohol due to the addition of fruit is small enough that you can comfortably ignore it.  Although you might want to pay attention if you are adding fruit to a base beer that is exceptionally strong or weak, or using a large amount of a fruit that has a substantially different gravity than the beer it is being added to.

Sorry about all the math, just a bit of the Mad Economist sneaking out...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Homebrewed Carbonated Sake Tasting

After a few months in the bottle I thought it was time to crack open a bottle of my first batch of sake for a review. I went with a bottle of the watered down, carbonated variety since the last one I opened seemed to be closer to being ready than the the still/undiluted portion of the batch (I'll wait another few months before reviewing one of those).

A jacketed glass of carbonated sake.Carbonated Sake

Appearance – Nearly the appearance of seltzer water. Except for the slight yellow tint, the sake is perfectly clear

Smell – The aroma has a rice/grain aroma, along with some mellow toasty-yeasty qualities. When I say yeasty I don't mean fermentation, I'm talking a packet of bread yeast. Not sure if that character comes from the pasteurization step, or from extended aging on the yeast sediment. There are some faint hints of vanilla, but for the most part it is missing the complex/fruity aromas of a good sake.

Taste – The flavor is similar to the aroma, clean with some rice and yeast. It is dry, but there is still a subtle sweetness in the finish. The alcohol is very mellow, so the slow feeding and cool temperatures convinced the yeast to that part of their job correctly.

Mouthfeel – It seems to lose its carbonation faster than a beer would, going from well carbonated to barely bubbly in the course of just a couple minutes. The body is pretty thin, as expected.

Drinkability & Notes – There isn't anything wrong with it, but it isn't especially interesting. Maybe my low fermentation temperature reduced the ester production of the yeast too much. Overall though I think it was a successful first attempt at making something new, it turned out drinkable and that's really all I could reasonably expect.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Smoked Rye Baltic Porter Recipe

Spend grain.In the great ether of the Internet I do a lot of talking about homebrewing, between posts and comments on this blog, emails, forums, Twitter, and Facebook.  It feels odd to talk with so many different people about brewing without actually getting to sample their beer or visa versa.  Once in awhile I'll swap some bottles with someone else via UPS, but it's rare (so much effort to try beers from one person). 

A few months back a few guys on BeerAdvocate hatched a plan to form a group of homebrewers willing to brew the same beer style (with our own spin) and then swap bottles.  Sounded like a good plan to me.  The basic concept was borrowed from a group of professional brewers who dubbed themselves Collaborative Evil.  The group was founded by Todd Ashman of FiftyFifty, Zac Triemert of Lucky Bucket, and Matt Van Wyk of Flossmoor Station in 2008 with the idea that they each brew a version of the same recipe with their own embellishments.  Over the last few years the group has grown to include five other brewers.

For our first attempt at this concept we decided to copy this year's Collaborative Evil style, Baltic/Strong Porter.  I decided to use the opportunity to brew the spiritual successor to the best dark beer I've brewed, my Scandinavian Imperial Porter (which I'm down to the last three year old bottle of).  I took what I liked from that recipe, but pared down the overly complex malt bill and eliminated the tacked on ingredients (heather-honey, licorice, cardamom).  I also added a hefty portion of smoked malt in place of half of the Munich/Pils base.  I did keep the flaked rye because I love that it contributes a hefty body without adding excessive sweetness like a higher mash temp or crystal malt does.

The boil right after adding the bittering addition.Smoked Baltic porters seem to be in vogue these days with Surly's Smoke, Hill Farmstead's Fear and Trembling, and Great Divide's Smoked Baltic Porter.  I haven't had a chance to sample any of them yet, but the idea of rich smoke mingling with the coffee and dark fruit character of a Baltic Porter seems like a perfect pairing. 

With the fermentation complete, yesterday I dropped the temperature of my fermentation fridge for the long cold lagering period.  Over the next six weeks the yeast and proteins will slowly fall to the bottom and the yeast character will mellow, hopefully allowing the smoke to shine through. This batch should be ready to drink just as winter is really hitting here in the Mid-Atlantic.

Smoked Rye Baltic Porter

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal): 4.75
Total Grain (Lbs): 14.50
Anticipated OG: 1.081
Anticipated SRM: 34.4
Anticipated IBU: 48.2
Brewhouse Efficiency: 73 %
Wort Boil Time: 90 Minutes

41.4% - 6.00 lbs. Weyermann Smoked Malt
20.7% - 3.00 lbs. German Munich Malt
20.7% - 3.00 lbs. French Pilsen
6.9% - 1.00 lbs. Flaked Rye
5.2% - 0.75 lbs. Brown Malt
5.2% - 0.75 lbs. Carafa Special II

1.00 oz. Brewer's Gold (Pellet, 7.80% AA) @ 75 min.
0.75 oz. Perle (Whole, 7.17% AA) @  75 min.
0.38 oz. Fuggle (Pellet, 4.00% AA) @ 35 min.

0.35 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 min.
0.50 Whirlfloc @ 15 min.

WYeast 2565 Kolsch

Water Profile
Profile: Washington DC

Mash Schedule
Sacch Rest 60 min @ 154

Brewed 9/11/10 by myself

For the Collective Sin group.

Collected 6.5 gallons of wort from batch sparge @1.072. (Much better efficiency than expected, so I added an extra 1/2 gallon of water mid-boil along with the Fuggles to boost up the IBUs slightly)

Chilled to ~80 and place in the fridge at 54.

Pitched the small yeast cake from Fresh Hopped Pale Ale after 5 hours. Gave 45 seconds of pure O2 before pitching. Attached blow-off tube.

Good fermentation after 8 hours.

9/17/10 Upped temp to 60 to help it finish out.

9/24/10 Racked to secondary, still has a krausen, still really yeasty.

9/27/10 Down to 1.026 (68% AA, 7.3% AA), nice bacon-y smoke, still a bit sweet and yeasty, but another week should take care of that.  Temp up to 64 to make sure it finishes out.

10/3/10 Dropped the temp to 35 to start dropping out proteins/yeast.  Shooting for 6 weeks of lagering before bottling.

11/19/10 Bottled with 2.5 oz of table sugar.  Stirred up with the auto-siphon to pick up a bit of the yeast. Down to 1.024.

1/20/11 Smooth chocolate roast, but not as much smoke as I was aiming for.  I guess the smoked malt wasn't as fresh as I hoped.  Still a pretty good beer, drinkable for being so big/young.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Do you make labels for your homebrew?

From left to right: James, Seth, Bridget/Kyle, and JamesNo (I spend all my effort on the beer inside)- 33%
No (I keg everything)- 15%
No (I don't even take the commercial labels off) - 14%
Yes (with cool graphics)- 13%
Yes (with basic info only)- 8%
It depends... - 14%

Sounds like there are (unsurprisingly) a lot of different homebrew labeling styles.  In the first year or two of homebrewing I made labels for most of my batches, but the more I brewed the less time and effort I put into them (especially after six months of unemployment ended).  For the last few years I've only been marking the caps with sharpie codes.  This works fine when I'm just sitting at home and cracking a bottle, but it creates problems when I bring beer to a party or homebrew club meeting where not everyone knows that "OWTB" means Oak Aged Wheat Tripelbock.

Recently I've been inspired to start making labels again by the beautiful packaging of several bottles of homebrew that people have given me.  Honestly all four of these bottles look better than most of the craft beer available. The one second from the left was brewed and waxed by Kyle, but the label was made by Bridget who won the 2010 BYO label contest (apparently she is willing to trade label designs for homebrew).  The Boom Boom Bourbon Barrel Stout was brewed by my friend Seth who brewed a Temptation clone with me three years ago before moving to Florida.  The two on the ends were done by my friend James who lives in Pittsburgh.  The big problem I'm having is that they're all so nice looking that I can't bring myself to open them.