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Old 01-03-2009, 06:15 PM   #1
HopBomb
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Default Adventures in Homebrewing - Pliny the Elderado

Warning: ramblings of an old homebrewer who hasn’t brewed a beer in 15 years to follow. I’ve got a lot to get off my chest …

First off, a big thanks to my younger brother who got bit hard by the homebrew bug recently, and figured he’d try and drag me back into the fracas. Knowing that I used to brew my own many years ago, back in the early 90’s before the kids took over my life, he started sending me emails with questions about this whole homebrew thing. I think I brewed my last beer back in ’93. The story behind that being the last one for well over a decade shall have to wait for another time perhaps. Let’s just say the story itself is still conditioning (a clue can be found in my screen name; not too cryptic for those that have shared the experience I’m sure …).

So my brother gets his first batch under his belt. Then he wants to go large. Huge large in fact. He tells me he’s found a recipe for Pliny. To him and me both this is the king of beers. Pliny the Elder. The penultimate Hop Bomb. For those of us that like big hopped up double IPAs. I myself am an East coaster, but I get out the Bay Area a few times a year where my brother lives and we have made the pilgrimage up to Santa Rosa to the Russian River Brewery several times. Pliny the Elder is liquid gold. I’ve not yet myself had the pleasure of quaffing Pliny the Younger, but understand Vinnie is brewing up this year’s edition right now, and I sure hope to make it out there in Feb to experience that…

So for Christmas, my brother sends me a box full of hops. Not just any hops mind you. Pliny hops. Simcoes, Cenntenials, Cascades, and Warriors. Seems that he went through all the trouble of searching the internet to get just the right the makings for his batch of Pliny, that he ordered up a double batch, split them up and sent me half. He figured if this wouldn’t get me back to homebrewing, nothing would. So I bit. Hook, line and sinker. Excellent gift Bro, better than socks and ties for sure. I went up in the attic, and dragged down all my old homebrew supplies. I had to make a trip to the local homebrew store to replace most of the plastic stuff – it was all looking a little weathered from years in the attic. But my glass carboy and other tools of the trade seemed to be in good shape. I spent a few hours soaking and scrubbing it all one night. And remembered how much I hate cleaning with bleach. But I hope I eliminated all the nasties.

Okay, so it is now done. I brewed my first batch of beer last night after my self imposed 15 year hiatus. A Pliny the Elder clone, which I've dubbed "Pliny the Elderado." I was a little rusty with the whole process, but it's kinda like riding a bike, it comes back quickly. Most of it anyway.

I invited my next door neighbor and beer buddy Larry over. He'd never brewed before, but always enjoys the good beer. Turns out a few months ago his daughter and her boyfriend went to one of these high end fancy brew houses up in D.C. where you brew your own beer on premises. They brewed 5 cases at a total cost of ~$250, all inclusive. Seems awful pricey, but they went all out with the full bells and whistle options, and had a good time so I'm told. Anyway, they gave Larry a case of their beer for Christmas. So he brought over a sixer of that, which was perfect because I think I recall that one of the cardinal rules of homebrewing is "One must drink homebrews whilst brewing." Rule number 6.5.a, sec 4 paragraph 2, I think it was. Right after RDWHAHB. Since after my 15 year homebrew hiatus, I didn't have any of my own, we drank his pseudo-homebrew. It was a very tastey IPA, btw.

So as my wort was cooling, and after we polished off all of his beers and a couple of local micros I had in the fridge, we were talking about bottling. I’d long ago tossed all my old beer bottles I’d had from my previous life as a homebrewer. So over the last couple of weeks since my Christmas present arrived I’ve had to start saving bottles again. At which point he informed me that he had empties. They had lots of company over the holidays, and his recycle bin was overflowing with them he tells me. I haven't quite yet accumulated all the bottles I'm going to need for this beer when it's ready, so I lit up. "Great, I'd be happy to take them off your hands", I say. Just in time, it turns out. Today is recycle pick up day, and he'd already put them all in his recycle bin out by the curb last night for pick up this morning. So off we go, out into the cold wet drizzle at 11 o'clock at night, digging through the recycle bin, separating the plastics from the cardboard from the bottles, like giddy little kids. "It's just the brown bottles I'm after, and not the ones with screw off tops. Here's one... clank clank...and another ..." Probably waking a few of the neighbors up as we go. Or and least causing them to look out the windows to see what all the commotion is. We did eventually wise up and drag everything up into his garage where we could actually see what we were doing and complete Operation Bottle Separation (OBS). We ended up fishing out almost a case of good brown bottles, over half of which had been from the aforementioned daughter's IPA. Which was cool, because those didn't have labels. I always hated scrubbing the labels off of used bottles for my own brews. When we came back in out of the cold, Larry's wife, who'd also come over to witness the new neighborhood brewing operation, and my own wife were both giggling and laughing - they of course had spied our little dumpster diving bottle rescue escapades from our window. We must've looked pretty ridiculous out there. But it was worth it. Along with the six Larry brought over early in the evening, and the few more we polished off, I netted half the bottles last night that I'll need in a few weeks when Pliny the Elderado is ready. And I tell them "hey, I'm just trying to make good on one of my new year's resolutions to try and be more green. We just saved those bottles from being trucked off to some far away recycling plant, and reduced our carbon footprint..." Bottle locally and drink globally. Or something like that.

So, in a few weeks we'll get to see how Pliny the Elderado comes out. And how close to the one true "Elder" I get. Probably not as close as I hoped. My OG was a little low, coming in at 1.062. I was aiming for something like 1.074. Guess I'm just a tad rusty after 15 years off. But all those hops sure smelled good. The fresh leaf Simcoes were just spectacular. I don't recall ever using those in my prior brewing life. Or fresh hop leafs for that matter. I could never find them so always used the plugs and pellets. But I've still got another couple ozs left to do the dry hop with. I'm sure Vinnie would be proud.

And once again to my brother, who rekindled my homebrew fires, a big thanks. He also pointed me to this great HBT web site where I’ve been poking around for a few days reading up on all that’s good in the land of homebrew. I’ve even seen a few of his posts – he's Odin’s Brew I think. Perhaps one day he’ll even share his Pliny clone brewing adventures. Or at least some of his beer.

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Old 01-03-2009, 07:09 PM   #2
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Great story and welcome to HBT! Hope the "Elderado" comes out well. I've never even seen a Pliny the Elder before but I see it mentioned often here, I guess I'm going to have to go search some out.

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Old 01-03-2009, 08:16 PM   #3
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A homebrewer's fairytale. I should print it out and have my girl read it to me before bed!
awesome story.Speaking of Pliny, Last week i was making beer w/a local brewer, freezing outside warming our hands over a hot brew-kettle,enjoying good beer. When all of a sudden he pulls a Pliny the Elder from the fridge,Almost like Releasing Excaliber from the Stone.
Me Never tasting it before it was hard to contain my excitement. Then he sadly explained how he was saving it for months now to share with another freind of his.
kind of a bummer, Ohwell someday we will meet again!

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Old 01-03-2009, 08:26 PM   #4
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Awesome! Glad you liked the Christmas present of all the hops! And even more glad that the drug sniffing dogs didn't mistakingly intercept the hops in the mail! Glad your home brew operation has been reactivated! Save me some!

Interesting study perhaps, we're brewing the same recipe. I have a lower OG. The actual question in this post is at the very bottom...

For those who like to read a lot, I'm the younger brother. And while I like to think I have controlled our genetic disposition for logorrhea (diarrhea of the mouth... seriously, look it up) I write a bunch too. I'll take this opportunity to oust my brother and his last brew experience in '93 and the clue behind his user name. (cool user name by the way bro'!) You can read all about it in my blog post OdinsBrew 3.

My batch of the same beer, which I'll be calling "Thor's Hop Hammer, the Crusher", is bubbling away now. For those like me who like to read about brewing while waiting for the next batch of brew to become ready, I'll soon be posting my stories about it and my first ever batch "Loki's Snakebite, vanilla stout (made with 2 qrts apple juice and 2lbs corn sugar in the primary ...currently in bottle.)

Also, for those who haven't had the pleasure to drinking a Pliny the Elder, maybe this link will work: BeerAdvocate.com

To give credit where credit is due, and to spread the good word, this is the recipe me and my brother are making:
Pliny the Elder Clone

And thanks again to my bro for helping coordinate a visit to Russian River brewery for my bachelor party and to Vinnie for showing us his, then, brand new bottling machine!

Questions about OGs, alcohol %, and tastes.
My batch's OG was 1.049. Yours was what, 1.069? Maybe lower because I had to add additional plain water to the wort? Did you boil the additional gallon of water like I recommended after I thought my hops absorbed a lot?
I'm assuming higher OG = higher FG which = higher ABV. And that more wort (less plain water added) = better tasting brew.
So how do you get an OG up? i.e. why is mine lower than yours?

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Old 01-03-2009, 08:58 PM   #5
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well KingHippo, you should point out to your Pliny hording brew buddy that he should read the label on the bottle. It says right there, and I quote from memory "Pliny the Elder is a historical figure. Please don't make this beer inside this bottle one"

Since they just started bottling it back in July of this year, I have no idea how it ages. And I'm not too likely ever have the willpower to find out. Mmmmm Pliny.

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Old 01-03-2009, 10:31 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HopBomb View Post
well KingHippo, you should point out to your Pliny hording brew buddy that he should read the label on the bottle. It says right there, and I quote from memory "Pliny the Elder is a historical figure. Please don't make this beer inside this bottle one"

Since they just started bottling it back in July of this year, I have no idea how it ages. And I'm not too likely ever have the willpower to find out. Mmmmm Pliny.
Sadly, Pliny does not age well, hence the warning on the bottle. I bought a bottle from a local liquor store that was a couple of months old. It wasn't nearly as good as the fresher bottles I've had. It was decent, but nothing compared to fresh Pliny.
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