Interview: Alesmith Brewery’s Peter Zien

Head over to The Voice of San Diego and check out their interview with Peter Zien, brewmaster of Alesmith, who recently won the Great American Beer Festival Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year Award. P.S. The interviewer is my brother, Will Carless.

Portrait of Peter Zien. Photo by Sam Hodgson

Portrait of Peter Zien. Photo by Sam Hodgson

“Brewmaster Peter Zien took over Alesmith Brewing Co. in 2002 and has presided over a rise in output from 800 barrels a year to 2,000 barrels a year since then. Last year, the Mira Mesa-based brewery won the coveted Small Brewing Company and Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year awards at the Great American Beer Festival.” Read The Article at voiceofsandiego.org…

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Review: SweetWater Blue

A few years ago I visited my brother George who runs a website design company in Atlanta, Georgia. During my stay I sampled quite a few local beers, but nothing quite compared to SweetWater Blue. Last week my brother and his girlfriend flew over to visit us in England where we hosted a big party for his 32nd birthday (I brewed 10 Gallons of beer for this! More on that later..) As a surprise my brother brought me over six bottles of SweetWater Blue in his luggage! Despite being very inexperienced at reviewing beer, I decided it was an opportunity too good to miss, so read on for the review!

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Diacetyl & My First All-Grain Batch

Things weren’t looking good for my first all-grain batch. I didn’t have a mash ton for a start. I’m not going to try and explain how much of a failure the 6-hour-long brew day was, and I’m not going to bore you all with the details about how I covered my kitchen in spent grain and sticky wort, but suffice to say things didn’t go to plan and I ended up with more beer on the floor than in the fermenter.

What I do want to talk about though, is the heavy butter taste that my beer has half way through fermentation. It tastes like butter popcorn and buttered bread – not a great taste in a 2% pale ale!

After some research online, I discovered that this buttery taste was caused by the chemical Diacetyl. According to Wikipedia, Diacetyl is a main flavour component in Butter. At low levels, diacetyl contributes a slipperiness to the feel of the alcoholic beverage in the mouth. As levels increase, it imparts a buttery or butterscotch flavor. Diacetyl is produced by the yeast as they turn the sugars into alcohol.
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Homebrewing Legalized in Utah

Great news for our friends over the pond in the USA, and a great step forward for the homebrewing community; Homebrewing will be legal in the state of Utah from May 2009!

Boulder, CO – March 25, 2009 – Yesterday, Governor Jon M. Huntsman, Jr. of Utah signed into law legislation that makes homebrewing beer legal. The “Exemption for Alcoholic Beverage Manufacturing License” was sponsored by Representative Christine A. Johnson and made Utah the 46th state to legalize homebrewing. The US Government made homebrewing legal on a federal level in 1978. Since then all but four states; Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Oklahoma have made homebrewing legal.
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The Kegerator!

This might seem a little weird, but I actually bought parts for a kegerator build before I bought any of my homebrew equipment! I guess the idea of ice cold beer on tap 24/7 was a little too tempting!

I bought a fridge on ebay for £5 (approx $10USD), and was surprised to find that it was in near new condition! I then purchased a fantastic cornelius keg, brand new co2 bottle, co2 regulator and 2 chrome through-door beer taps from a nice chap called Norman. If I tried to explain how good his service was, how superior his products were, and how happy I am to have chosen to buy my kegerator parts from Norm, I’d be here all day. Check out his kegerator parts ebay shop.
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“Spring Morning” Extra Special Bitter

For my first batch of homebrew, I decided to build my own recipe. I wanted to create a light, refreshing ale to reflect the seasonal changes here in England as the first few colours of spring appear after a long, grey winter.

I decided to stick to an extract recipe for my first brew, as I was not confident enough to start mashing grains with no prior experience. I used BeerSmith software to help build my recipe; the interface is fantastic and makes for easy calculation of IBUs, gravities and alcohol content. I based my recipe on the BJCP style guide for Extra Special/Strong Bitter (Style number 8C), although Beersmith calculated the colour as 8.2EBC which is under the style guidelines for Extra Special Bitter, the beer turned out exactly the right colour for the style. Continue reading

A Homebrewer’s Introduction

As of this post, I have finally lost my blogging virginity; and it didn’t hurt half as much as I had anticipated!

Considering that I work as an online marketing consultant for an SEO firm in the UK, it’s pretty bizarre that I’ve never posted any kind of blog before. However, the time has come for me to break into the world of the almighty blog, and what better subject than beer? Continue reading