UPDATE: Alright, thanks for the wait guys; we have two winners!

Amarillo - Jacob Dennis
Citra - Steve Greco

Drop me an email at bertusbrewery@gmail.com with your shipping addresses, and I'll get the hops in the mail. Thanks again to all who entered. Hopefully we'll do something like this again in the near future!

I've mentioned it a few times, but I buy 98% of my yearly supply of hops in bulk after the harvest. I love the flexibility this yields, as I always have what I need on hand to brew what I want. I'm usually pretty good at accurately estimating how much I need, but this past year I bought a little too much.

So with that said, I'm happy to announce that we're doing our first ever giveaway! I have 8oz ea of 2012 crop year Amarillo and Citra taking up space in the freezer, and I won't use it before the 2013 crop shows up. They've been vacuum sealed in my freezer since harvest last year, so they are as fresh as year-old hops can possibly be. You guys have really helped make this blog what it is with all the suggestions, questions, comments, and support, so I wanted to say thanks.

Here's how it'll work: If you wish to enter, please leave a comment on this post with either the word 'Citra' or 'Amarillo'. You can only enter your name in for one or the other; I'll delete both entries for duplicate posts.

Entries will be accepted through December 9th, and two winners will be selected on December 10th. We'll get in contact after that, and the hops will ship out later that week.

As much as I love all you International readers, I regret to say this giveaway will be for US residents only. Sorry guys.

Finally, I wanted to say that I've received a ton of great suggestions and requests for the blog, both via email and in comments, recently. You guys have some great ideas, but it's often hard for me to either remember them, or keep them organized. So I'm going to create an additional page at the top of the site for suggestions and requests. That will help keep me organized, and hopefully I can dedicate some more time to those posts. Keep an eye out for it in the next few days. I can't promise that I'll get around to all of them, but I'll certainly try.

Thanks again for the support everyone! Cheers!

Between brewing a lot of clone IPAs, and then beers for the wedding, it's been awhile since I've brewed an IPA of my own. The timing is good, as now is also a good time to finish using up the remainder of my 2012 hops before the new 2013 ones come in. Also, we're going to be camping this Thanksgiving with the in-laws, so I'm going to make this a 10 gallon batch, and bring a keg out for the weekend.

Fall is in full swing here in Phoenix. Our definition of Fall is quite different from a lot of the country (80s and sunshine), but the nights are cooling off, which is putting me in the mood for a dark roasty beer. I started flipping through my brew log looking for some inspiration, as I often do. Literally 50 pages deep, still digging for something, I realized it had been nearly three years since I last brewed a milk stout. A milk stout it is. Never one to leave well-enough alone, I decided to throw in some cacao nibs as well; Milk Chocolate Stout does have a nice ring to it.

Well, the big day has finally come and gone, and we're officially married. It's sort of funny how months and months of hard work culminate into one night that goes by in what seems like a flash. Nevertheless, we had an absolutely amazing weekend that we'll never forget. Vows were said, beers were drank, and laughs were had. Seeing as this is a homebrewing blog, we should probably talk about the beer. I won't get into too many details about each recipe, as each will have a dedicated post, but let's cover some of the fun of brewing for a wedding.

It's finally time to get cracking with the batches of beer for my wedding. For the first beer, I wanted something light and approachable, but still something very flavorful. I flipped through my brewing notebook, looking at past batches, hoping something with strike a chord.  Sure enough, a batch from last spring was exactly what I was looking for, my Hoppy Summer Wheat.

As of May 2013, there are 2,514 breweries in the US with an additional 1,559 currently in planning, and I personally don't believe the market can sustain them all.

Now before the nasty-grams start coming in, let me explain myself. The craft beer market is clearly expanding fast. Craft sales have increased 15.4% in volume YTD, so the US beer consumer is definitely drinking much more craft beer. This isn't the issue in my opinion, as I think craft beer will continue to steal market share from the big boys. So what is the issue? Well, there's a few.

My Fiance and I's wedding is right around the corner, so it's definitely time to finish planning the beers for reception. As I mentioned a couple of months ago, I decided that my Enjoy By clone would be the IPA I would make. It's just so damn delicious once it hits your lips. Why brew it again since I just brewed a super successful clone of this beer a few months ago? Well, I'd like to brew it with WLP090, and I just wanted to be double sure it wouldn't have any unintended consequences. (Plus, why not have 5 more delicious gallons of this beer on tap?)

I've been itching to make another California Common for a long time now, as it's a beer style I really love. It has all the malty character of a good amber ale, but with less hop character and a crisper smoother finish. I figured this would be a nice easy beer to end a brewing hiatus with, as it should be fairly point-and-shoot. This was also the first batch where my friend Kiernan actually started brewing with me. We split a 10 gallon batch, and he's starting to learn the process.

As I mentioned in my Micro Pale Ale post, we've got a big party coming up very soon, and I need to get some beers cranked out fast. All my friends will definitely expect a good IPA on tap, but I need something I can turn out in three weeks flat. After flipping through some past recipes, I realized the Blind Pig clone I brewed awhile back would be a good fit. It's a little lower in alcohol than the typical IPA, and the bright crisp hop notes taste good even when the beer is young.

In keeping with my current trend of brewing a low-gravity session beer every few batches, I'm brewing this to kick off a set of beers with WLP090. I wanted to do something a little different this time, so I'm going to brew a very low gravity American Pale Ale. It'll be something similar to Lagunitas Daytime IPA, or even Firestone's Mission St. Pale ale, only smaller yet.The goal is to keep the OG at or around 1.035, but hop this beer as I would a 1.055 Pale Ale.

I'm a member at a local Crossfit gym. As every Crossfit affiliate is independently owned and operated, there are some awesome ones, and less than awesome ones. I'm really thankful to be part of an awesome one, and an awesome one that loves craft beer. East Valley Crossfit hosts a Crossfit or lifting event a few times per year, and whenever feasible, I try to brew a batch for those events.

I've been wanting to brew a Chocolate Coffee Stout for awhile now, but especially since getting my hands on some amazing coffee. Late last year, my fiance found some incredible coffee from a shop called Old Bisbee Roasters. This guy doesn't roast the coffee until you buy it, and since Bisbee is only a few hours from Phoenix, we get the coffee the next day. Anyway, he occasionally gets this one variety, Bali Blue Krishna, and let me tell you, it's like heaven on earth. I had to brew a beer with it.


I'm not sure if too many people noticed, but there's a new tab on the top of my blog called Temp Monitor. Using a Raspberry Pi, I'm able to monitor my fermentation temperatures in real-time from anywhere, and I'm pretty flipping giddy about it. The values on the page auto-update every 15 seconds, and the graphs will update with every page-refresh. I figured this would be a cool idea for a writeup, so here it is.

West-Coast Amber Ale is one of my favorite styles of beer. They're big, malty, hoppy, but most importantly, drinkable; what's not to like? Since I have a pitch of Chico-like yeast ready to pitch, it seemed like a great time to brew another batch of my Amber Ale. I'm brewing nearly the same recipe as last time, only making a color adjustment, and a few hop tweaks. I'm swapping out Centennial/Amarillo for Falconer's Flight at the 10 minute addition (just to use up some 2011 FF). I did want to play with the dry hop schedule a bit, so I employed the dry hopping test method we talked about here. I used Sierra Nevada Pale Ale instead of Bud Light, which worked fabulously well. I dosed four bottles, each with it's own dry hop ratio.

No, your eyes aren't deceiving you; I'm dry hopping Bud Light today. I borrowed this idea from one of the brewers at Anchor Brewing. He mentioned on a Brewing Network interview that this is his favorite way to see the differences between different hop varieties. They just buy a 12er of Bud Light, pop the caps, drop in a few pellets, and then taste the differences. It sounded like a great idea to me, so here we go!

Union Jack. Probably my favorite beer in the country. It's over-the-top hoppy, but in a floral and sweet citrus sort of way. It has a big malty flavor, but it isn't cloying in the slightest. I just love this beer. It unfortunately gets me in trouble because I have a habit of drinking it like it's going out of style, but that's another story.

My Fiance and I had been planning a trip up to Northern California to tour Sierra Nevada, Russian River, and any other breweries we had time for (Lagunitas, Bear Republic, etc). It just so happened that US Airways had some disgustingly cheap flights ($80 round trip from PHX) during the second week Younger was to be released. Seemed sort of like destiny.

Three Floyd's doesn't distribute out west, but with all the hype around Zombie Dust, I've wanted to try it for some time. I did get to sample their beers at GABF in 2011, but they didn't have ZD at the booth. The beers I did try were fantastic, so I'm left to assume that the hype around Zombie Dust is merited. As such, I've had a ZD Clone on my to-brew list for awhile now. This isn't a clone post though. There are a few ZD clone recipes floating around, and while I have my own inclinations, I've never tried the beer. The popular one on HBT looks damn, damn close, so don't be surprised that this looks similar.

I'm starting to fall in love with low gravity beers, and I really want to keep one on tap regularly. To accomplish that, I'm going to start brewing a low gravity batch each time I switch yeast strains. The nice benefit to this is, I get enough healthy yeast for 2-3 subsequent ferments. Since, I have a couple batches on deck that are going to use WLP002, we're brewing a standard bitter today.

Often my inspiration for a recipe comes from odd places; this recipe started at GABF last year. The good folks at WYeast gave me a certificate for a free smack pack, and while grateful, I completely forgot about it. Around a month ago i was going through a stack of papers, and found the certificate, which was expiring at the end of the year. My regular LHBS only carries White Labs, but we do have another LHBS in town that stocks WYeast. Now White Labs and WYeast have mostly the same strains, but there are a few that are exclusive. One which White Labs simply doesn't have an equal for is 3711.

Alright, it's time to roll up our sleeves and start talking about Stone's special release IPAs. First of all, for those that haven't had Enjoy By IPA, do whatever you must to try this; it is incredible. Go, drive, run, to the nearest store and buy a bottle if it's available in your city. I'm not a BJCP certified judge, but this beer would get 48-49/50 if I were to sit down with a scoresheet. I think my single improvement would be 5-10 more IBUs, but it's quite literally a perfect DIPA. No seriously, Perfect.

Just like the Ruination 10th Anniversary clone I brewed, this is a beer that I hadn't planned on cloning. That changed when my fiance and I were back in California, and we happened upon some Pliny and Pig while we were out there. Turns out Kristen loves Blind Pig. I'm not throwing the word 'love' around loosely either; no, she seriously loves that beer. So I added it to my to-brew list. Clone Blind Pig we shall!

I wanted to thank everyone for the readership, support, comments, and feedback over the past year.

From a brewing standpoint, 2012 was very good to me. It wasn't without it's missteps, but overall I think I made some pretty good beer. On the competition side, it was definitely a great year. I placed in all but one competition I entered, and had two beers place in BOS rounds.

Personally, I'm proud to have gotten this blog on it's feet. It's nothing without those that read it, so again, thank you.

Cheers to the New Year!

We're always excited about a new recipe we want to try, our next brew day, or a new piece of equipment to brew with. Unfortunately, that same enthusiasm rarely carries over to fermentation, and that's where the magic happens. Great brewers will tell you: "Good beers are all about fermentation", "Fermentation, Fermentation, Fermentation", etc, but despite the importance, it seems to be the least romanticized part of brewing. So I decided to write a post about how I care for my yeast, and what happens after the flame goes off. FYI, a lot of this might be repetitive for some brewers, but I've had a number of requests for this topic.

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