Hob Knob Brewing Company

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Yuletide Greetings From Hob Knob!

Did you know that "Yuletide" is actually a winter festival that was initially celebrated by the historical Germanic people as a pagan religious festival, though it was later absorbed into, and equated with, the Christian festival of Christmas. Just your useless holiday factoid of the day :)

Anyways, Happy Holidays & Merry Christmas everyone! First, an update on the brewery. We're still in a holding pattern for now. The family business, our Telephone Answering Service - Answerphone of America, is getting ready to begin moving into our new building that we just purchased. It looks like it will be a busy holiday season for us. Even with the old lady (the wife) working come next year, there won't be enough cash flow for the brewery. After next year is when things get exciting. The up-fitting costs of the new building will be paid off, and we should see some money start to come in from the investment. So fingers crossed, 2013 should be our year. I know...if the Mayans are right, we're screwed.

On to brewing. I've been staying busy brewing. I finally had a brew session go exactly according to plan. Hopefully, I'm starting to get the hang of this thing! That brew was my Coconut Creme Stout. I added the coconut to the secondary, and am hoping that it will be ready to go by Christmas. Just got another upgrade to the garage brewery - a 12.4 cubic foot freezer - which is presently cold crashing the Apricot Pale Ale I made a while back. I just added the Oatmeal Stout to the kegerator, and have to say it turned out pretty well.

That's it for now! Happy Brewing!


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Brew Day - Apricot Pale Ale

Things never go according to plan on brew days. I think a skilled brewer already knows this fact, and utilize their experience to take quick corrective action to save the brew. Sh#t happens as they say. So, since I made every mistake under the sun brewing my Apricot Pale Ale, I figured I'd elaborate on my corrective actions to see if anyone had any ideas they'd like to share, or maybe help some brewer noobs out there hone in their own skills.

First problem: Forgetting things until the last minute. I almost forgot the 5.2 (a powder that gets the acidity of your water to the ideal levels for your mash). I did forget about the whirlfloc tablet, but was able to add it later on. I didn't have any yeast nutrients, not that, that mattered with how well the starter performed. The point is, add your additives to your brew day planner (I use beersmith), and set the additives out right next to your brewing setup so you have to walk past them 20 times.

Second problem: Know your system. I just installed the 5500 watt elements in my brew kettle and hot liquor(water) tank from the electric brewery. It's incredible how fast it can heat 8g+ of water. Which leads us to our problem. Know your boil off figures (how fast your system boils off wort/water). When it came time to cool the wort, I should have had 5g left, and instead, had only 3.5g! The garage had clouds of steam hovering around the ceiling. The simple corrective action - just add more water (which is when I remembered to add the whirlfloc tablet. I boiled just long enough to sterilize the wort, and give the hops a little more time. Which leads us to problem #3.

Third problem: Timing. Since I didn't know how fast my system boiled off water, I was guessing at the hop timing. I hit my volume levels after only a 20 minute boil with the hops - which is part of the reason I ended up with 3.5g. The element in the boil kettle comes on slow, but once it's hot, it tears through your water volume. I estimated I was losing about 1g every 30min - which is 2x as fast as the propane fired system I used to use. That was one of many problems with the hops, but by simply adding more water, I was able to extend the boil time, and get my volumes back in line. The good news is, at that boil rate, their should be a hint of any DMS!http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif

Fourth problem: Know your hydrometer. Your brew day planning sheet (in beersmith) gives you estimates of where your original gravity (the sugar content of your wort) should be before you boil off some of the water. I thought the efficiency of my system was off because I'd get 45% efficiency when everyone else would get 65-70% on average. The light bulb finally went off (hey...better late than never!). HYDROMETERS ARE CALIBRATED TO 60 DEGREES! Not the 140 degree plus wort I was pulling. There are calculators online that can give you an accurate adjustment based on the temp/og reading you get. As soon as I plugged my numbers in the calculator, it came out to an OG of 1.040. Beersmith estimated I'd get about 1.039!

Fifth Problem: Hop leaves don't act like hop pellets. The pellets practically dissolve during the boil. Hop leaves however, just sink to the bottom. They're extremely adept at clogging your plumbing in the most annoying locations. When I tried to start cooling the wort, the hop leaves almost immediately clogged the pump housing. Not a big problem, simply removed the pump housing and cleaned it, but it took probably 20-30 minutes. During that time, I added water straight to the wort, and brought it back up to a boil, while re-adding the hops to give them some more time to soak - this time using a HOP BAG, so they wouldn't clog my plumbing. The hops that were in the wort, I strained out into a bucket, and trust me, holding a 20g steel kettle while pouring out the wort is a man's job. That thing isn't lite!

Sixth problem: Avoid stupid mistakes. Once I finally got to cooling the wort, the process began to flow smoothly. The wort had already been strained, so I just pumped it straight into a 6.5g carboy that had been sterilized. It's busy fermenting at about 65 degrees. The last problem was that I forgot to put a bit of gin in the air lock, so it was open to air all night. Hopefully, that won't create any sour tones in the brew!

All in all, brew day was an adventure to say the least. I think it means I'm out of practice, so I'll have to brew a whole lot more! :)

Happy Brewing,


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Updates, Happenings, and Occurrences

Hi Friends! So I know it's been a while since my last post. A lot of things have been happening with the family business between travel and real estate deals. So far I've been to Las Vegas and Orlando, and Boston is right around the corner. We're also looking at a significant investment property for the family call center here in Statesville. In my opinion, one of the nicest buildings in Statesville may soon be home to Answerphone of America and the telephone answering service. Here's a picture:

The good news is it looks like the deal is becoming more and more likely, and it will get us out of our current location that we've been shoe horned into for so long (not to mention the area isn't the greatest). The real estate deal looks like a lock tight commercial deal that should generate a decent cash flow for years to come. The bad news is it looks like it will be a significant investment personally on me and my wife's part, so the brewery is going to be delayed fairly substantially. While not my ideal choice, the safety and security this deal represents compared to opening a brewery is a no-brainer, and I'm very excited about it.

The brewery looks like it will stay in the garage for now, where I'll be working to perfect my different recipes and experiment with different ideas to create unique and tasty beers! Right now on tap, we've got a hefe, a blonde, and a brown ale. All almost crystal clear, crisp (with the exception of the brown) and delicious! My pumpkin ale is still a bit of a disappointment, and I'm still hoping it will mellow out, but so far, no dice.

Anyone's welcome to come on by for a good brew anytime! Hope to see you soon!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Updates: 8-15-11 - The Knob Hits The Beach!

Hey everyone! After a great week and a half at the beach, it's back to the daily bump and grind (got a few shots below). Have a lot of travel coming up for work, and I'm looking forward to hitting up quite a few craft breweries. I'll be in Vegas, Orlando, and Boston in the coming weeks.
On The Beach

Bar Knopping (Get it? wocka! wocka! wocka!)

More Foolishness

Had a great day over at Chuck & Chad's place yesterday where the beer never stopped flowing, and the pizza was hot and spicy! Got to make a few new friends and even ran into an old friend I played ball with back in the day (ahhh the good ole days)! We, and by we - I mean Chad, brewed 20g of NoDa-rized. Got to try some award winning baltic porter, along with some other great porters and ipas. Their place could definitely be considered hop heaven when it comes to brews!

As for the brewery, I continue to piece together our pilot system for the main brewery. The 1/2bbl system will be fully electric, which will hopefully save some cash on propane. I'm thinking about adding a HERMS system to the pilot. The plans for the system can be seen at theelectricbrewery.com - a very well put together piece of machinery!

Our expected launch date has been pushed back due to repairs that we're undertaking on the house. Originally, we were looking at October, but with all of the planning, testing, gov't red tape, etc, we're now looking to (hopefully) open on St. Patty's day next year with a big party. We're looking to rent a location in January of next year, and build out the brewery.

The other option we're considering is a much slower roll out - which is a definite possibility. Instead of diving into the game with a 3bbl system, we might hold out until we can afford a 10-15bbl system. Let's face it, it's rare for a brewer to become a millionaire in this business, but brewing on such a small system would be very difficult to make any profits off of. Profits from a 3bbl system aren't projecting that high, and I've heard to make any money, you have to operate at least a 7bbl system. It'll be a difficult choice to make as I'm one of the least patient people on the planet, and waiting until St. Patty's day of next year is killing me. We'll continue running the numbers and stick with that plan until we see that it can't work. Either way, we'll continue perfecting the brews and loving life!



Thursday, July 28, 2011

Hob Knob's Official Logo & Latest Happenings!

Well, here it is! Hob Knob's official logo. Personally, I think it turned out great! It's got a few elements of symbolism in there. The most obvious is the oak tree. My favorite areas of Charlotte and Cornelius have towering oaks around them. Absolutely beautiful. Oak is a symbol of strength. From what I've learned, you've got to be a very strong company to break into the retail markets like grocery stores. It'll take persistence and brewing great beers that people demand in the stores. It'll also take long nights of brewing to keep up with the demand on such a small system. All are tasks that I think we'll be up for.

The Scotsman's Wee Heavy turned out wonderful, despite the hectic brewing day. However, the Kurbis Oktoberfest and Northern English Brown Ale have some tweaking to be done on their recipes. The Scotman tastes darn near perfect. It's so well balanced, you'd never guess it was tipping the scales at 10.2% ABV. It's very malt, with some slight bitterness, but very very smooth. The flagship for the brewery is just about set! The Kurbis pumpkin ale may be over spiced. Though spices tend to mellow with age, so since we're waiting until oktober to drink it, hopefully it will be good to go. I tasted the N. English Brown - though it was just off the trub after transfer to keg this morning - and it tasted like crap. Hopefully, it was just the trub I was tasting moreso than the beer. We'll give it some time to settle out and clear, and then give it another shot. I must say though that the aroma is very, very sweet, so the balance isn't really there from the hops. Maybe some older hops from my local provider killed some of the alpha acids. Time will tell. In the meantime, I'm gonna go try some more of that Scotsman's Wee Heavy!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Big Box Store Brand Beer? Say it ain't so!

I don't really like the idea of big box companies jumping into the craft brew market, but that's just what Harris Teeter is planning to do. Besides the obvious reason I don't like the idea (less shelf space), it could also slow the craft brewery movement currently underway. When a company is primarily concerned with profits, they look for short cuts. Cutting corners almost always produces lower quality beer loaded with adjuncts (like corn & rice) instead of natural, high-quality ingredients. If I put my brown ale next to a harris teeter (or a michelob/budweiser/miller/coors etc) brown ale, and if their beer is $7.99 and mine is $9.99, the consumer is going to go with the cheaper one. If the cheaper one sucks...do you think they're going to come back to the $9.99 brown ale from Hob Knob? Of course not.

I think it is also a bit deceptive to put a different label on it other than Harris Teeter (instead calling it 'barrel trolley'). It's obvious why you would change the brand name. No one's going to buy a harris teeter beer, or sam's choice beer, or kroger brand beer.

Craft breweries do one thing. They focus on producing unique, high quality, fresh beers (makes my mouth water just thinking about it!). The margins are ok, but not huge by any means - unless - you skip on the quality, slap a label on it with a 'crafty' name, and an interesting label, and market it as craft beer. That's what I'm afraid we'll run into if big organizations try to take over the market from the little guy. At Hob Knob, we have one goal for our first year. We're looking to try to break even during our first year of business! Profits are important, but if I wouldn't drink what I'm producing, I certainly wouldn't create some pretty marketing label and catchy slogan and try to market it. I'd rather see us place in the top 3 of a few beer competitions.

With that being said, I don't plan on boycotting HT or anything silly like that (they're actually the best grocery store chain in my opinion). Of course, I could be totally wrong, and HT might produce some high quality brews. I plan on trying their Belgian white because I'm a fan of blue moon, and it sounds similar in characteristics. I'm skeptical of the quality of their product because every store brand I've ever tried, while being cheaper, has also been a lower quality and value than the original brand. Think cereals, vegetables, etc. I guess we'll see. One things for certain, that's one less area on the beer shelves for a smaller guy to come into the market, because they certainly aren't going to take shelf space away from the big box brew companies like inBev (formerly Annheiser-Busch - now owned by a foreign company) even though they have singles, 4 packs, 6 packs, 12 packs (in bottles AND cans), 18 packs, 24 packs, and more. One of the harsh realities of the fierceness of competition in the beer marketplace.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Scotsman Wee Heavy Brew Session was a brewing nightmare

So last night was pretty much a brewing disaster by all accounts, save one - at the end of the night (well morning to be exact), we had a wee heavy that was fermenting and should be ready to go by August. Really looking forward to trying it, because it'll be our first beer with an ABV closer to wine (around 10.2-10.5%) than beer! It's a tough balancing act to keep the malty characteristics of the beer in line without it creating a burning sensation from the high ABV.

The biggest area I've been struggling with in all grain is my final volumes. I use a computer program called beersmith to help me estimate final volumes (like boil volumes) etc.

Things started off bad. I go to crack my grain with my corona mill, and get the bright idea to put a bolt in the crank (instead of the crank), and use that to turn the mill. It worked perfectly until I cracked the steel housing on the mill! Some JB Weld and about 2 hours of waiting and permanently installing the hand crank solved that problem, much to the chagrin of my shoulder.

Once we have the grains cracked, it's time to mash. Beersmith says to add the water at 164 targeting a mash temp of 150. Well, it drops to 161 instead of 150, so I'm losing precious enzymes. Not that big of a deal, but not that happy that beersmith was off by 11 degrees. A few ice cubes brought the temperature down to 151, and I let it sit for an hour.

Attempting to keep my HLT water temps up for a fly sparge after my first batch sparge. I failed to realize that thanks to the 2 hour delay, I'd lost a ton of water to evaporation.

About this time, my march 809 pump blew it's housing. I don't know what the problem was, but it sounded like a screw had dropped. Of course when I reached down to fix it, the pump fell all of 4 inches and the weight of all the brass attachments cracked the damn plastic housing!

So while I was waiting for my 2nd sparge water to heat up, I replaced the housing on the pump - another hour gone. I let the second sparge sit for about 45 minutes in the mash tun, and drew it off to the kettle via gravity since the pump was out of commission. Of course, I didn't keep track of how much water I put into the second sparge because I was pissed about not having enough water and having to wait for that and about the problems with the pump (which has been nothing but problems and a huge hassle - now I know why there are so many gravity fed systems - gravity never fails...pumps always fail). When I pull the 2nd sparge into the kettle, I overshot my pre boil volume of 7.7gallons, and end up with close to 9! Crap! My boil time then get's extended from 90 minutes to 120 minutes in order to burn off the excess water, and get my abysmal starting gravity (1.055!) higher in sugar concentration.

After boiling all the way down to 60 minutes, things went rather smoothly from there. The pump was fixed. The cooling went like a charm. The only problem was I ended up with 5.5g instead of the 6g I was hoping for. Final starting gravity after the boil was 1.097. Right in line with where I wanted to be!

So at 6am, I decided to clean up. Since I've gone to all grain, I've picked up some mice in the garage who enjoy taunting me throughout the brewing process. Apparently, they're also the smartest mice in the world, because they avoid the traps and poison. I keep my grain stored properly, but that doesn't mean they don't get the benefit of the few kernals that fall to the garage floor every so often. I've declared war on the rat bastards, and they'll soon meet their maker.

After all is said and done, the brewery's clean, and I've got a fine wee heavy fermenting. I'm really looking forward to giving this brew a try in the near future! The one good things about night's like last night is that after everything, you're still left with a ton of great beer!



Thursday, June 16, 2011

Hob Knob announces it's flagship brews!

Over the past few weeks we've been debating what styles of beers we should brew. I'm happy to say we've reached a decision. The 3 styles we'll be brewing (according to BJCP guidelines) are English Brown Ales (which include a Strong American Brown, English Mild, and English Northern); Irish & Scottish Ales (including a Strong Scotch Ale or "Wee Heavy" as some call it); and finally, a few seasonal/specialty brews (like our Oktoberfest K├╝rbis (pumpkin) ale). Not giving too much away, our beers plan on having something that is (at least to our knowledge) unique to the craft brewing industry on the East Coast of the United States. Keep an eye on our blog as we get closer to our official launch, we'll fill you in on just what that is.

As for our official launch, we got some bad news yesterday. We're dealing with the government right now, trying to get all of our paperwork/licensing/permitting/etc out of the way. After speaking with the folks at the NC ABC (who were very friendly), we found out that the employees at the ttb (the feds) have a bunch of workers on furlow. So it has dramatically lengthened their time for processing our Brewer's Notice form, which we plan on sending in this week. Typically, it takes them less than 95 days (according to their site), but with the furlows, I've found this can take up to 6-9 months. As Arnold Schwarzenegger would say, "DAHALAHGLHALALHLHGLAHLAHA!" So it looks like best case scenario for production to start would be early 2012. Who knows, maybe we'll get lucky and get our paperwork back by mid-late fall. I guess the good news is it let's us perfect our brews, and we can shop around for the best price on our equipment for a bit longer. Delays on shipping equipment are usually around 3 months anyways.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Brew Day at Hob Knob & The Brewery Tour(s)!

Brewery Tours!

The Carolina Brewmasters has been a great club to join. Not only did we get to do a 5 brewery tour yesterday (for a mere $10) in the great city of Raleigh, I got to meet a bunch of great people in the club! We took to the road at 8:45am and headed to Durham to tour Fullsteam Brewery. There I was fortunate enough to meet with the owner, Sean Wilson.

Fullsteam had the most character of any of the breweries that we toured on this fateful Saturday that saw a little bit of everything. There was a bunch of mooching on the bus ride of quality home brews and snacks (thanks everyone!). I would have to say that full steam also had the most unique brew of anything that we tasted, a sweet potato based ale! Delicious! From there, we went to triangle brewing, and then on to lonerider brewery. Again I got to meet another owner. This time, it was Mihir, who with his partners brews on the side of his normal job as an IT guy (at least I think he was in IT - it was the 3rd stop on our tour so my memory is a bit hazy).

It seems like all of these breweries are bursting at the seems. Everyone is upgrading there systems...from a 1 barrel to a 7 barrel...lone rider was going from a 15 bbl up to a 60. Seems all of our friends are meeting with quite a bit of success, and we wish them well!

Sunday Is Brew Day!

There's nothing quite like the smell of a good mash to us brewers! To the non brewer, it bears some semblance to oatmeal, only 100x better.

The Grain:

The Mash:

I'm busy today trying my first batch of all grain brew. We're brewing an American Brown Ale in the garage with the thunder booming in the background. Naturally, with it being my first all grain batch, I've already screwed some stuff up. The amount transferred to the boil kettle is no where near enough, so I'm trying to rapidly bring about 3g up to temp to add to the grain bed to hopefully pull off some extra wort. I'm using propane, so it shouldn't take that long to get up to temp, but we'll see.

All in all, the first all grain batch turned out very well. The OG (original gravity) and efficiency of the system was surprising (and good). It means more fermentables for the yeast to consume. All we have to do now is wait a few weeks and carb the brew up and enjoy some great American Brown Ale!

Monday, June 6, 2011

The brew stand is almost complete!

First off, a big thank you to the electric brewery for the plans for the brew stand and advice on other various parts of the home brewery! We're getting close to our first brew day, and hope to be brewing up a storm this Sunday.

The only hold up right now is the heating system. I supposed I could go propane, but I really, really don't want to have to use 1/2 a tank every time I brew. That would get pretty expensive between brewing and bbq'n!

After hopping to brew on the system the last 2 weekends (which obviously didn't happen), I was getting pretty discouraged with how long the setup was taking . I managed to crack the pump housing TWICE, but was able to repair the second one with some JB Weld, and going with an outer fitting rather than an inner fitting (why the invite people to crack the housing with the inner fitting is beyond me!) I finally had something go my way. To heat 10+ gallons of water, you need some serious wattage. Knowing that my christmas lights routinely popped the breaker in the garage, I figured I'd have to hire an electrician to come out and do the install. The lowest quote I got was $150. Well, it turns out, the people who lived at the house before me had a spa - which they'd wired in the breaker with a big, 50amp, 240v breaker! It got even better when I discovered that this old line ran right by my brew stand under the stairs in my garage! So all I have to do is basically wire a 240v plug, and away we go.

I decided to update everyone on the progress here at Hob Knob, so here's a little video:

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Hops & The Gov't

Hob Knob took it's first real step towards becoming an official brewery today. We applied for a 'Certificate of assumed name for a sole proprietorship'. Basically, we registered our name so that no one else can use it! So 'Hob Knob Brewery' is now officially my DBA title. Next up is purchasing a brewer's bond, and filing a 'brewer's notice' with the ttb (that's the 'Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau').

The hops garden is beginning to take root! I'm growing a few different varieties. My personal favorite is the fuggles variety. I'm also growing cascades, goldings, zues, and the jumbo nugget hops you see to the left!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Adventures In Home Brewing

So this was supposed to be a triumphant weekend. With a 3 day weekend, I should have been able to accomplish a lot! All I accomplished was a few good learning experiences. Here's a few things I took in:

1) Don't buy the cheap white teflon tape to seal brass plumbing. It won't work. The pink (extra strength) teflon tape, pipe sealant, or pipe joint compound is your friend. I tried 3 times assembling the hardware for my pump station, and it leaked like a sieve every times. Had I spent the extra $.97 on the pink teflon instead of the white teflon, I'd of been done hours sooner, and I wouldn't have run into this next problem.

2) When you're able to stop the leaks, and assemble the plumping...it doesn't have to be Conan the Barbarian tight. I was giving the inlet plumbing its last final quarter turn to tighten it down, and heard a pop, managing to crack the pump housing. $43 later, I ordered a new housing from ebay.

3) Water is smelly. With all the plumbing problems, the pump leaked all over the rug in the garage. A box fan is NOT enough to dry out the water. Water + Heat = Fly Heaven.

4) Flys are small, dumb, yet agile - and not attracted in the least bit to bug zappers. Looking for alternatives, I turned to my blower. Armed with my trusty 125 mph leaf blower, I declared war on the swarm (and lost miserably). I ended up dragging the rug out onto the driveway to dry.

5) Meanwhile, the wife was out planting new plants along the front walk way on a 90 degree day. So being the loving, caring husband I am, I decided to take her some ice water. Now being the efficient person I am, I decided to clean a carboy while in the act on the counter in the kitchen (I'm sure you can see where this is going). After going outside, I forgot about the carboy, and forgot about the water filling the carboy. Luckily, a few days earlier, I had invested in a wet/dry vac - which was immediately put to good use picking up about 2+ gallons of water and star san.

I was able to accomplish about 1.5 things this weekend. I got half the trellises hung for the hops. My jumbo nugget hops are doing very well, with the other 4 varieties close behind. I was also able to transfer and filter the honey nut brown ale to my keg for carbonating. Looking forward to a taste of that next weekend! I will say this. If running a home brewery is anything like running a commercial brewery (and I'm sure it is), I've got a heck of a lot to learn!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Busy, Busy, Busy

So here at Hob Knob, we're busy crunching numbers and making plans. SWMBO ('she who must be obeyed' aka the wife) is gung ho and started working on label designs. We did get a bad of news which will delay our launch.

A) Start up licensing takes up to 3 months, and will cost around $1300.
B) No garages - commercial locations only, which ads $10,000+ a year to our costs.
C) Our tanks are on back order, and not wanting to make a snap decision (though we're 90% sure we'll go with 2 125g fermenters), it looks like the earliest we could get them would be September.

Right now, we're considering a lease on a 1200 sq ft location for $850/month. Just a small place to get started. Our capacity and space will be limited, but the location can't be beat - its about 1.5-2m from the house. I think it may be in the same complex as my buddy over at Ass Clown Brewing - though Matt's movin up to the big time with a 5,000 sq ft facility, and looking to upgrade to a huge 7bbl system.

The biggest hurdle we'll face is the government. The red tape associated with running a brewery is amazing, which I guess is good and bad, otherwise these craft breweries might be popping up everywhere (well, even more everywhere...they already seem to be popping up fairly frequently). I know at least 4 new breweries have opened their doors in the last 2 years in the greater Charlotte area. I say the more the merrier. One thing that we'll never be short of is beer drinkers!

The more I think about all this, the more I keep getting sucked in. Though we've got some delays, I don't think anything is a game changer. In fact, now we're more motivated than ever to bring quality beers to folks in our area. Hopefully, we'll be ready to launch by this fall!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Brew Stand Debacle

I hate staining. It's simply a pain in the butt. So when the 5 or so hours I'd put into the build of the brew stand was complete, and all that was left was a little painting, I was excited to be done. It turns out, I had no idea what I was doing. Brushing it on like paint doesn't work, and just creates these hideous looking streaks. My beautiful stand now looks like it has leprosy, and I've got to figure out how to fix it. I've got two choices it looks like...add a few more coats of stain, or sand the stain off and paint. I'll probably try a few more coats before throwing in the towel.

What it's supposed to look like (from the electric brewery site):

What it looks like now...yes, I gave up on staining:

Man, I hate staining.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Hob Knob's Namesake & Brewery Update

There's an old saying, "Don't hobnob with snobs." Well, at Hob Knob's Brewery we pride ourselves on being beer snobs. Like many, I started drinking the "beers" of the big 3 - Budweiser, Miller, and Coors. This was before realizing there were literally hundreds of styles of different, unique, and tasty brews out there just waiting to be consumed. When someone calls us beer snobs, we look at it as a compliment. Hence the play on the word "hobnob".

The "Knob" part of Hob Knob comes from my old college days. My friends and I enjoyed the film "Strange Brew" with Rick Moranis. Running with the dialog of the movie, it was commonplace for us to call each other 'hosers' and 'knobs'. It is this carefree, fun, and relaxing environment that I wanted to incorporate into a brewery. For me, brewing is a pleasure, a past time, and an opportunity to show my creative side. It's not work. It's something I love to do, just like hanging out with old college buddies. That's why we named the brewery, Hob Knob Brewery, and my dog wound up with the name 'Hoser'!

Right now, the Hob Knob Brewery is a hobby. The plan is to go pro. It seems like we're slowly moving in the direction of offering our beers on a limited basis. I can't help myself when it comes to purchasing bigger, better brewing equipment. Right now, 'the system' (as we call it), is capable of producing 18-19g batches on the 20g system - more if you did partial mashes (partial mashes are basically like brewing from concentrate and diluting it). We could feasibly do 2 kegs per day (or 1bbl, or 31g), meaning we could pump out around 160 gallons per week on the current setup - more than enough to make the jump to commercial on a nanobrewery level once I get my 2 155g fermenters.

The setup is progressing at Hob Knob, and I've got almost all of the connections I need for the complete plumbing setup and pumping station. I'm about halfway done with my all wood brew stand. I've upgraded the system to the 20g all grain system. I'm learning everything I can about beer from brewer's radio, books, videos, tours, tournaments, clubs - you name it!

Time for a cold one!