Gowanus Brewery


New Beer Labels by Jeremy
October 11, 2008, 12:00 am
Filed under: label

The single-X brew of the holiday three-pack is the Gowanus American Harvest Amber Ale.  Doesn’t the children’s handwriting scream “American”?  Like the others, this is an American-style beer.  I’m all about brewing and mastering American-style beers and so that was my inspiration for these labels.  

The label for the Gowanus Double IPA, the double-X brew, is messy.  More than anything, I think the design is just cool.  It fits the theme, though.  Beer and Olde English predate America by hundreds of years, but they’ve both been reclaimed by our West Coast.  The Double IPA was supposedly resurrected there and you might recognize Olde English as the font of choice for present and former members of the California penal system.

Strong ales, like barley and wheat wine, seem like the type of stuff the founders of our country might have set aside to enjoy on special occasions, so I incorporated some fonts reminiscent of quill-tipped pens, parchment paper, and so on into the Gowanus Strong Wheat Ale label.  This is obviously the triple-x beer of the pack.

As with my other labels, these were all drawn using GIMP, with some of the fonts coming from Dafont and brush designs coming from DeviantArt.



Raspberry Wheat – Bottled and Labeled by Jeremy
April 22, 2008, 12:00 am
Filed under: all-grain, beer, label, raspberry wheat, yeast

Whipped up this label a few minutes ago and finished bottling the Raspberry Wheat Ale before that.

I haven’t had the free time lately to put more creative energy into my labels, which is why the last few have been so similar: background picture + cool font. It’s boring, but it’s the beer that’s important right!

Anyway, I tasted the raspberry wheat again while bottling and it still tastes very good. Any concern I had over using too few raspberries went out the window tonight. Overall, the beer is dry, light-bodied, and the raspberry flavors stand out pretty well. I think the primary reason halving the amount of raspberries you would typically add worked out so well is that I used an American wheat yeast, which ferments dry and clean. German wheat yeast produces rich flavors like bananas and cloves and would compete with the berries. Of course, I’m still curious how this beer would have tasted with five, or even ten, pounds of raspberries…



Gowanus Raspberry Wheat Ale – Recipe Rewrite by Jeremy
March 18, 2008, 12:00 am
Filed under: all-grain, beer, competition, label, recipe

I’m working on a recipe to enter into competition and, after finishing up the Gowanus Wheat Beer the other day, I’m making a couple of changes.

The first most important change is to not screw up the mash. Last time, when bringing the mash from the dough in up to the sugar rest, I added water that was too hot and the temperature shot way up to 180 degrees. That definitely denatured some of the beta-amylase resulting in a beer with higher levels of unfermentable sugars and a fuller body, even though I eventually brought the beer down to the appropriate range. The other change is a little more subtle.

For homebrewers new to all-grain the recommended sugar rest is typically around 153 degrees, which is what I did for both the Gowanus Raspberry Wheat Ale and the Gowanus Wheat Beer. At that temperature, both alpha- and beta-amylase are active and you get a medium-bodied beer. The alpha-amylase chops starches at arbitrary points into big pieces. It’s active at higher temperatures, works fast, produces unfermentable sugars and a full-bodied beer. The beta-amylase chops starches into small pieces, like glucose and maltose, but it works only from end points. It’s active at lower temperatures, works slowly, produces fermentable sugars and a lighter beer with higher alcohol content. The second change I want to make is to lower the sugar rest temperature to promote the beta-amylase for a lighter, drier beer. The trick is that the rest has to be much longer because this enzyme works much more slowly.

According to BYO, the sugar rest for Anheiser-Busch’s Bud Light, which has the profile I’m going for, is at 140 degrees and it’s held there for three hours. For the past couple batches, I’ve held the wort at 153 degrees for an hour, but for the next batch I’m going to do what A-B does: lower temperature, longer rest.

Here’s the latest incarnation:

4 lbs. Rahr White Wheat

4 lbs. Rahr 2-row

1/4 lb. Flaked Wheat

1 oz. Willamette (5 mins)

4 lbs. raspberries (frozen, add to secondary)

Sugar rest at 140 degrees, three hours. Edit: Based on advice from other homebrewers, I’m going to try 145 degrees for two hours.

These are big changes and should really improve the brew.



Gowanus Wheat Beer – Bottled by Jeremy
March 17, 2008, 12:00 am
Filed under: all-grain, beer, label, naming, wheat

Yesterday, I bottled the Gowanus Wheat Beer, which is what I named the American Wheat Beer I brewed a few weeks ago. I’m over the clever names. It’s just Gowanus Wheat Beer.

Bottling went great, but something went screwy with the fermentation. OG was 38 and final was 16, which means ABV is about 3% (rather than the 5% that an OG should produce). What’s odd is that the specific gravity was 16 when it went in secondary a couple weeks ago. There was no change between then end of primary and yesterday. It stopped, prematurely.

In Papazian’s The Complete Joy of Home Brewing, he suggests that the most common explanation for stuck fermentation is high levels of dextrin. Dextrins are starch chains of four or more glucose molecules and are unfermentable. Smaller starch chains and individual glucose molecules are fermentable. The ratio of the sugars depend on how the mash goes. If the temperature is on the high end, you promote beta-amylase and get more dextrins. If it’s on the low end, you promote alpha-amylaze and get more fermentable sugars. In the future, I’m going to do this mash at 150 degrees to promote alpha-amylaze. I’ll also have to hold the rest longer because this enzyme is relatively slower than the other. In the end, this beer should be drier and lighter than it actually came out.

The label came out great, even if the ABV isn’t totally on point.



Slick Labels, Tasty Brew by Jeremy
December 17, 2007, 12:00 am
Filed under: double ipa, extra pale ale, ipa, label

I’ve been using 2″ x 4″ mailing labels from Staples for my beer bottles. There is a template available online to make printing a snap. I’ve spent hours scrubbing labels off bottles, so, as far as I’m concerned, the smaller the label the better. Plus, this size label looks great on a range of bottle sizes, from the taller, 24 ouncers to the shorter, grenade-style bottles.

The Olde Nash is the California Imperial Pale Ale I brewed back in October.

The Chinook Me is the Chinook IPA. I can’t take full credit for naming this one. That goes to my (lovely) girlfriend.

The Cleaners Pale Ale is the Extra Pale Ale, which I actually moved to secondary just this morning. The named seemed fitting for a beer that’s supposed to be crisp and refreshing.

I use GIMP to draw these labels, pulling free fonts from Dafont.com and images from Google’s image search. I used OpenOffice to view and fill the template. I found out (the hard way) that OpenOffice and Microsoft Word handle tables and images slightly differently, which is a problem since I have to print from a Word-only workstation. So, from OpenOffice, I’ve started exporting the completed template as a PDF, rather than a Word document, to sidestep the Microsoft software altogether.