8th MS Anniversary: Magic 8 Beer #homebrew

Update:  I posted an Instructable on this.


Each at Microsoft, people tend to bring in X pounds of chocolate (usually M&Ms), where X is the number of years they have been at Microsoft. 3 years ago, I celebrate my 5th year with5 gallons of Nutcastle Brown, since it has chocolate malt in it.  2 years ago, I brought my Accidental Imperial Stout with 6 oz. of chocolate nibs in it.  Last year I celebrated my Voyage at Microsoft  with my 7’Cs beer.

This year I tried to find a find way to work “8” into it.  And yes, even though I spent the last 3 years working on Windows 8, and we shipped right around then, and shipped Windows Phone 8, I never thought about that.  What I did think was “Magic 8 Ball.”

So I announce this year I have developed  the Magic 8 Beer!

The beer part was easy, Brew a Cascadian Dark Ale.  That took 1 second of mental effort and 4 hours to brew.

Now for the Magic 8 Ball part.  After many iterations of ideas, I settled on an 8-sided Paper die, which is Shellacked and Epoxied and cured to make it water proof, and food safe.


Each die has 8 sayings or pictures.  Each die is unique, though about 3/5 of the sides came from a short list of repeated phases.  The creation of the die took hours of research, prototyping and pondering.  The phrases took a couple of hours to create, the Visio file took a few hours to create (over time) and the shellacking, cutting, gluing and epoxying  to 5-6 hours more.


Then came the cozies.  At a work event that had these cozies


which bent around the bottles or cans.  There were spares, and I knew I would use them somehow.  I hit the idea of dyeing them black and spray painting the magic 8 beer sign across them.

Great idea except it did not work.  The fluorescent green nylon did not take the fabric die, and the raised black ink just laughed at it.  So Plan B was spray paint it black then white stenciling.  Plan B failed with the green bleeding through.  Plan C was spray with white over the green, passable.  Plan F…G…H…, I lost track, was spray Killz, then black, then white lettering.  That is what I went with:


The result was fine, the raised ink really pops.  The hard part was the stencil which got loaded with paint.


7 C’s IPA Anniversary Beer


As with my Accidental Imperial Stout this is my Anniversary Beer for Microsoft.

2 years ago, for 5 years, I brought 5 gallons of Nutcastle Brown, since it has chocolate malt in it.

Last year I brought my Accidental Imperial Stout with 6 oz. of chocolate nibs in it.

This time my MS voyage has hit 7 years, so I created this 7 c’s IPA.

This has 7 different “C” hops in it.  I had tasted Lumpoc’s C-Note and really liked it.  Researching a 7 C beer was trickier than I thought.   I was surprised that not many other people had done something with a spin on the name. My version is an IPA, but not an over the top bitter one, these hops mix together to form a moving balance from bitter to floral to spicy to citrus, with a nice malt backbone as it washes down. 

Finding all the C’s was tricky.  I have Cascade, I picked 3 more C’s (Centennial, Chinook, Cluster) of them at Larry’s Homebrew Supply on my way to Beerstock, and then 2 at Mountain Homebrew (Crystal, Columbus),   That left Citra or Challenger.  Before the brew weekend I was widowering and Working from home whilst my wife was running her fourth Ironman in 3 years, so running errands was tricky.  @beerymcgee had some Citra he was willing to share, but I found that Bob’s Homebrew had both Citra and Challenger in stock, and it was "on the way" to picking up Minion #4’s Bow from the Nock Point. 

I still did not know what which hop I wanted.  Citra is more "US" but I already had plenty of citrus going in…  Anyway I gave myself an hour to get there by 7pm when the store closed.  First issue was loading Minions in the van, down to 45 minutes.  Then I got stopped by construction (one lane), then traffic ( l love the 520 bridge), then the friggin’ bridge was up at Montlake.  I got to the store at 7:00 exactly, and they still let me in (thanks!).  Clearly the choice was made for me, and I got Challenger.

BTW that is not all of the homebrew stores in the Puget Sound region 🙂

I spent of lot of time trying to figure out how I could figure out how to balance the hops.  Rather than trying to craft a plan for the hops, I chose to stay with the theme of 7. I bittered with 21g (7×3) of cascade and Chinook  and added 7 g of each hop at 20 and 5 minutes and then dry hopped the rest of each package. My weights of the rest (dry hop) are highly suspect.

To say this had a bit of hop sludge would be like saying Germans drink a bit of beer.  I had to strain the wort to get all that goodness out.  I had pellets, whole hops, and plugs.  Each one of those has issues, I had them all.  On top of that I could not get a chance to rack before dry hopping, in the bucket they went.  On kegging day I racked to a carboy and I still got 2 inches of trub/hops at the bottom in an hour.

Even after kegging, it was still “thick” so I added isinglass to the keg.  This is not surprising, you can look at the recipe, it took 45 minutes just to enter all of the hops into Hopville.com.

I’ll be serving this tomorrow (10/7/2011) at work.

Hopville Recipe.

B-Day Labels #7 Accidental Imperial Stout

At Microsoft (my day job) it is traditional to bring in X lbs. of M&M or chocolate where X is the number of years you’ve been there.  Over time people bring in a variety of forms of candy.  Last year I made a Brown Ale with Chocolate Malt in it. 

This year I started out with a sweet stout that I was going to add actual chocolate to.  But this was the first time with my Grain Mill and apparently I got the efficiency more than right.  When I was done I forgot to check the OG.  When I did, a few hours later, it was not 1046 like I had planned, but 1072.  Yikes!  This meant I had just under pitched the yeast and I had no more.

When I was able to get more, I found that it had fermented, but threw another pack of Nottingham in anyway.

Time for the chocolate.  I spent 30 minutes at PCC looking for chocolate nibs (chocolate in a more raw state), to discover that they did not have them (so glad I called ahead, grr).  I then sprinted to Whole Foods and found chocolate bens, nibs, and powder and far too many confusing things.  The differences is the the earlier in the processing the more the chocolate flavor you get is not what people expect for “chocolate".”  That is because it is very bitter (no sugar yet).   The trick here is I wanted a unit of 6 (for 6 years).  I decided to go for 6 ounces of nibs.  To balance that I wanted to add 6 Vanilla Beans, but then I saw the cost of whole vanilla beans (like $5 a bean) and decided that I could go with 6 inches!

After I fermented and racked to a secondary, I added the chocolate and the chopped bean (soaked in vodka to sterilize them).  I let it sit in secondary for several months.  When I first tasted it, I was expecting an over bitter beer and had bought lactose form Larry’s which will allow me to sweeten without the yeast fermenting it away.  And I tasted, and it was too sweet!

I brought it to Mt Si. Homebrew Club and it was agreed it need more bitterness.  I was ready to boil some hops to create more bitterness, but it was not needed.   I let it sit in the keg and get more carbonated (the CO2 will form carbonic acid).  Now it is perfect.

The real problem is I have yet to have a Friday at work where I can crack the keg and chat (as I do not plan to get any work done).

Ok the real problem is I have to stop “tasting” it Smile


For the label I wanted an image of a Russian bear slipping on banana (playing off of the style is now Russian Imperial Stout) but I could not find an image suitable.  I then looked for kings slipping and other things.  Finally I had to make a king/imperial banana:


The delivery was at a meal with prime rib.  I was in a meat coma for 4 hours!




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