Dark Matter 2012 Brew Day recap

Keith and Michelle hosted the 2012 Dark Matter Brew Day – this massive imperial stout has been brewed previously in 2006 and 2009, but the hope is that we will make this an annual event, allowing us to hold vertical tastings as the years go on.

Chief brewers for the day were Keith and Derek, who were joined by Sudzers Steve, Susie, Kathy, and Robin, as well as Keith’s friend Ryan.

Knowing that a massive brew done on an unfamiliar system would take some time, we started bright and early at 8:00 am building the improvised brew sculpture and beginning to heat the 20 gallons of water we would need for mashing 82 pounds of grain in the giant cooler mash tun borrowed from Dan from The Grain Trust. After some initial trouble getting the strike water to hold temperature as it ran into the cooler, we were eventually able to hit the target, and we ended up mashing at 154 degrees.

The cooler was completely maxed out, as you can see from the pictures. In fact, despite our best efforts, we were unable to get the last couple pounds of grain in, so we added them later to convert while we began running off the first of the wort. Because of the sheer pressure on the braided tubing in the mash tun, runoff was stop and go – we went through an ongoing ritual of continuing to stir the mash and blowing back into the runoff tube to create channels for the wort to travel. Eventually, removing a few gallons of mashed grains released the pressure and allowed runoff to proceed more smoothly.

As is typical with an epically long and busy brew day, more photos were captured during mash in, and relatively few as the day progressed. (Although we did pause to capture the moment before consuming one of the last remaining bottles of the 2009 Dark Matter!)

We added 1.5 pounds of DME that was on hand to help account for lower efficiency than estimated (about 60%, as compared to the 68% assumed in the recipe) as well as doing a two hour boil to reduce 22 gallons of 1.088 wort down to 18 gallons in the fermenters with an OG of 1.106. A massive amount of yeast was pitched (one pack dry Safale US 05, one vial White Labs WLP 001, and 1/4 of a US 05 yeast cake from an amber IPA Derek brewed last weekend in each of the four carboys containing 4.5 gallon batches) at about 5:30 last night, and by this morning there was already about an inch of krausen in the fermenters.

5 gallons of the stout will eventually go into a used Balcones Distillery bourbon barrel for aging, and the plan is to bottle condition all 18 gallons. Dues-paying club members will all receive at least one bottle some time next year, and the rest will be used for club events and future vertical tastings of this amazing club brew. Cheers!

Dark Matter Brew Day 11/24 (updated)

This will be our 4th annual fall Club Brew Day, and the third that will feature the famous Dark Matter Imperial Stout.

Brew Day will last from 8 am until approximately 3:00 at Keith’s house in Milpitas. Email moresimcoe@sudzers.org for address/directions.

I’m attaching a copy of the (updated) recipe for your enjoyment and future use.



We have borrowed Dan R.’s giant cooler mash tun and 26 gallon brew kettle, so we will be doing one massive brew instead of two separate 10 gallon batches.

Everyone is encouraged to bring food and/or beer to share. You can RSVP at https://www.facebook.com/events/489051504467747/

Ron’s Beer Blog: Heretic Night with Jamil Zainasheff at Harry’s Hofbrau

Wow, what an unexpected surprise. Heretic night at Harry’s. Met brewer, Jamil, who explained about awesome Evil Cousin IPA. Brewed with Apollo and Columbus, but mega-dry hopped with Centennial, and yes…SIMCOE! Tons of it. Not just once or twice, but almost continuously over the brewing process. As he explains, leaves hops in suspension rather than settling to the bottom. He just checked over at BevMo and they have it refrigerated in bottles with “brewed-on” date. But he says you gotta get it while it’s fresh, effective hops can go from 100 down to 80 over a couple of months. Sudzers bus trip visited brewery shared with E.J. Phair in Pittsburg, but no one from Heretic was there. Jamil was nice enough, though, to leave enough cases of Evil Twin for everyone to take home a couple bottles. Was never impressed with it, but now I have a new respect for Heretic after tonight. Also tasted Torment, served in 8 oz tulip glasses. “Belgian candi sugar notes” is an understatement, very sweet. Not surprised with 10% alcohol.

Beer descriptions from Heretic’s website:

Evil Twin

abv: 6.8%
ibu: 45
srm: 18
This blood-red ale may not be what you might expect from a malty and hoppy craft beer. Evil Twin has a rich malt character, without being overly sweet. It has a huge hop character, without being overly bitter. It is a great example of a bold, rich, balanced craft beer, without being heavy and hard to drink in quantity. Our Evil Twin is only bad because it is too good to resist.

Evil Cousin

abv: 8%
ibu: 100
srm: 4
Evil Cousin is Heretic’s take on a West coast imperial IPA. This beer is a bold, in-your-face hop monster. It has a light, easy drinking malt character that allows the hops to stand out. The hop character in this beer is intentionally on the dank side; big, sticky, and aggressive. This beer is for those of you who can’t get enough hops. Join us on the dank side.

Shallow Grave

abv: 7%
ibu: 33
srm: 33Shallow Grave Porter is dark as night, perfect for a cool evening out in the woods. This a big, dark ale with a complex and rich chocolate and caramel malt character followed by a touch of warmth and light malt sweetness, leaving you ready for more after each shovelful. You will love this so much you won’t have time to dig a six-footer, so make it a Shallow Grave.


abv: 10%
ibu: 20
srm: 17
This 10% Belgian-style dark ale is the dark counterpart to Worry. Torment is a rich beer with lots of caramel, malt, dark fruit, and Belgian candi sugar notes. The luscious fruity character is full of caramel apples, candied pears, and chocolate covered oranges

Sudzers demo homebrewing in SF with brewer Ben Dobler from Widmer

On October 25, Sudzers Tyler and Marcus joined Widmer Brothers brewer Ben Dobler for a homebrewing demonstration in the Explore Your Craft event in San Francisco. In honor of our region and Widmer’s reputation for wheat beers, Tyler and Marcus developed a recipe called “Wine Country Wheat, ” a wheat wine with honey and grape juice. Tyler reports that the brew is currently fermenting away, and we all hope to try it soon!

October meeting notes

The meeting was relatively light on business, but heavy on homebrews!

Sudzers who attended NCHF gave a report about how much fun we had and how well-received our beers were.

October Thirsty Third Thursday to be held at Harry’s Hofbrau San Jose on October 18

Fall brew day discussion – we will begin brewing Dark Matter Imperial Stout on an annual basis each fall. This year’s brew day to be held in November at Keith’s house, date TBD [date is now set for November 24]

Christmas party discussion – regular December meeting will be cancelled, but the club Christmas party will be held at Nick’s house, date TBD [date is now set for December 8]

At the Christmas party, in addition to the famous gift exchange, voting will occur for club officers and Homebrewer of the Year (who gets his or her name engraved on the prestigious Sudzer Cup).


There may be some vacant officer positions, so this is a good opportunity to step forward. If you are interested in running for any office (President/CEO, VP/COO, Treasurer/CFO, Chief Technology Officer, or Chief Communications Officer), please let Derek, Tyler, Nick, Keith or Robin know. Also, if you have anyone you think should be nominated for Homebrewer of the Year, please let one of the officers know.

And then there were homebrews! While attendance was down to about 25 Sudzers at this month’s meeting, we had 18 homebrews to evaluate. Tasting notes on all 18 were not captured, but the brews were, in no particular order:

Robert’s West Coast Session Trappist Ale
Rob’s Gluten Free Raspberry Beer
Rob’s Colonial Ale with pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, molasses, and spruce tips
Tyler’s Imperial Red
Mike’s Patriotic Plum Porter
Mike’s British Redcoat Bitter
Doug H’s German Alt
Derek’s Dubbel
Derek’s Belgian Golden Strong
Charles’ British Strong Ale
Charles’ Citra Pale Ale
Fuad’s American Wheat
Steve’s many-years-aged Belgian Sextuple
Keith’s Oaked Black English IPA
Keith’s German IPA
Steve and Keith’s Red Velvet Cake Ale 2.0
Linda’s Dubbel
Santiago’s Belgian Strong

Robert (as a first time attendee!) and Tyler got the most votes for “I’d buy a keg” on the club rating scale of dump/taster/pint/pitcher/keg.

November meeting will be Friday, November 2 at Nick’s house.


Homebrewing 101 Presentation at Morgan Hill Library

As part of the Morgan Hill Library‘s fall series of programs on homesteading, they included a program on homebrewing basics on October 11 from 7-9 pm. Sudzers Mike Conant and Derek Wolfgram, along with The HeadQuarters homebrew club President Andrew Carroll, presented an overview of beer history, ingredients, styles, equipment, techniques, and recipes. In addition, the program provided sources of additional information on homebrewing, such as local homebrew clubs, homebrew supply stores, books and DVDs available from the library, and online resources.

After two hours of talking about beer, presenters and attendees adjourned to El Toro Brewing Co. just down the road from the library for additional discussion and more beer education.

Print or download the slide deck from the program at Morgan Hill Library: Backyard Brewing.pdf

Upcoming Sudzers Events

Club events are always posted on the calendar on www.sudzers.org, but we wanted to highlight a few upcoming events. See the calendar for times, locations, and other details.

  • October 18: Thirsty Third Thursday at Harry’s Hofbrau San Jose
  • November 2: Monthly Sudzers meeting at Nick’s house
  • November 15: Thirsty Third Thursday, location TBD
  • November 24: Fall Brew Day at Keith’s house – more details later, but know that we plan to brew an awful lot of the club recipe Dark Matter Imperial Stout!
  • December 7: Monthly Sudzers meeting will be cancelled but fear not because..
  • December 8: Annual Sudzers Holiday Party at Nick’s house. Again, more details later…



Northern California Homebrewers Festival Photos

The Sudzers represented well at the Northern California Homebrewers Festival in September with about 20 members in attendance and 13 outstanding brews on tap! Plans are already underway for NCHF 2013, with the theme “Space: The Beer Frontier.” Cheers!

Homebrewing books & DVDs from your local library

A couple of club members are working on doing a Homebrewing 101 presentation at the Morgan Hill Library on October 11. As part of our preparations, we put together a list of excellent homebrewing books and DVDs available at any Santa Clara County Library District library. For your reading and viewing pleasure: http://is.gd/homebrewlist. Cheers!


Sudzers September Meeting Notes

We had a fantastic September meeting – lots of guests since we had Master Cicerone Nicole Erny presenting!  Here’s what you missed if you weren’t there…

New Sudzers T-Shirts are here! $20/Men’s, $25/Women’s (this is at cost!)

NCHF Planning – members going to NCHF had a quick planning session with Mike Conant, our NCHF Chair this year.  If you weren’t at the meeting and haven’t seen any of the emails this week and you ARE going to NCHF, email Mike (or Derek or myself) immediately so we can get you on the distribution list!

Third Thirsty Thursday – September 20th at Harry’s Hofbrau San Jose (390 Saratoga Avenue, San Jose); show up between 6 – 7 pm, leave whenever!

The summer party was a huge success – many thanks to Jim for loaning us the fun house and for Nick on taking excellent care of the fun house!

Plan on a fall club brew day later this year – making lots of the infamous Dark Matter Russian Imperial Stout again!

Nicole Erny, Master Cicerone gave a fantastic presentation to the group on “Focus on Flavor”.  We all learned many interesting facts about palates, how to train your palate and how to develop a better vocabulary when describing beer, food, wine, etc.  If you are an AHA member, you can login to the NHC conference site and view the same presentation materials Nicole showed us.

Homebrew Tasting: (due to the large group and length of the meeting, we did not use our rating system on the homebrews presented); you’ll also note a few entries from the Worts’ canned fruit challenge…

  • Jim – Cherry Berlinerweiss
  • Santiago – Gluten Free Saison, made with sorghum and brown rice syrups
  • Chris Ringer – Apricalt, and Apricot-flavored northern German Alt beer
  • Keith – Blackberry Schwarzbier
  • Steve & Keith – Red Velvet Cake Ale 1.0, an ale made with a special cake recipe modified by Steve Casselman, trying to get that baked cake flavor into the beer; Version 2.0 is in secondary right now.
  • Marcus – Night Man (fighter of Day Man), Oatmeal Stout
  • Mike & Matt – Porter; 1st 10 gallon batch, 1st dark beer, 1st beer in kegerator, lots of 1st’s here!
  • Morgan – Eviler Twin, More Beer Evil Twin kit, added American oak chips soaked in 2 oz. rye whiskey and Falconer’s Flight hops to make it “eviler”
  • Jim & Jason – Blind Pig Clone; added oak chips in secondary; only 14 days old
  • Derek – Cask aged American Barley Wine – boozy!

 Reminder to homebrewers for future meetings – bring your recipe with you!

 See you at Thirsty Thursday, NCHF or our October 5 meeting!