What is Broken Wrench?

Sometime around 2011, our tiny southern California kitchen became a haven for experimenting with beer making and brewing equipment. Our love for craft beer and homebrewing has grown into a hobby that's produced stouts, IPAs, ciders, meads and more. Each week brings new challenges and new things to learn, especially living in the craft beer rich county of San Diego. Here is where we share our love for brewing, tasting and all things beer!

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Variety Pack Tastings part I - Beer Camp!

by NilesJuly 22, 2014 11:29

Ahhh Beer Camp. True tidings of summer. Where one amazing brewery dedicates its time to the grand ideas of homebrewers, bar owners, and professional brewers alike.

This year, Sierra Nevada has taken to the road to promote their annual Beer Camp in seven stops across America. They invited all those who signed up for beer camp notifications via one special bottle of West Coast double IPA. Which is available at BevMo and is incredible, I might add. You may have seen our review of the beer on the website, and if so, I hope it made you go out and grab a bottle.

Unfortunately, we didn’t attend the Beer Camp stop in San Diego… The ticket prices gave our wallets shock. We heard it was a great time. Ken Grossman, the founder of Sierra Nevada was there and even poured samples! Since we couldn’t make it to the event, I was damned if I wasn’t going to support my favorite brewery in another fashion. That’s how our fridge became home to the specialty Beer Camp twelve pack!

This unique pack contains ten individual bottles and two cans created by professional breweries around America and produced by SN. I’m really glad to be able to enjoy beers created by brewers that I’ve never seen in California before. Classics such as Cigar City, 3 Floyds, and New Glarus, for example.

Since the backstory is done. Let’s get to tasting!


We started the night off with Yvan the Great. A Belgian-Style Blonde ale from Russian River. Now, I know it’s not fair to only list the collaborating brewery, but for the sake of repetition, I’ll do it that way.

This beer is a Belgian ale, through and through. With a gorgeous golden pour, this beer lacks a thick head. Being not overly carbonated allowed the soft and light fruity flavors to really sink in, rather than dance on your tongue. It smelled fantastic. Truly Belgian in aroma, it was very bright and springy, with hints of melon in the background.

Overall, we were impressed with this beer. Seeing that these brews all have different colored labels, I started giving them my own color based on the overall impressions of each beer. This beer would be Purple. And it receives from us a solid 8/10.


Next we had Yonder Bock. Well, I had most of it since Steph isn’t too keen on bocks. This is a Tropical Maibok from Cigar City.

An interesting effort produced this beer. I drank it from the can, so the aromas I got were minimal. What I smelled was very fruity. Tropical indeed. From mango and guava, I got fresh pine sawdust from it. What I tasted was even fruitier. It was like drinking carbonated, alcoholic fruit juice. Passionfruit mimosas anyone?!

This brew had a disappointing malt profile for a dark brew. Although Optimator and Salvator have fruitiness with them, I was definitely expecting a lot more out of the dark malts. It’s only vaguely roasty. That brought the rating down a bit. As wonderful as it is at first, the fruit side is overwhelming. The color I sensed from this beer was Orange. Not the fruit, just the color. And it earned a 6/10.

That’s all for now. I’ll be back soon to post two more. Stay tuned!

Beer Tastings - Cider and a Double IPA

by NilesJuly 11, 2014 19:12

We found a still cider at BevMo and thought to try it out. What we discovered was a lightly spiced, very appley, golden libation.

Henney's Vintage 2012 Still Cider

6.5% ABV

First impressions give this cider an appearance much like a white wine. Aside from the color, it's dry and has a minimal aroma. The aroma I could pick up was faint cinnamon, cloves, and a not-too-unpleasant vinegar scent. Upon tasting, it's apple sweetness gives way to a dryness that leaves me wanting more. There's a bite, for lack of a better word, much like white wine. I can't accurately describe it, but I suppose it's a similar semi-sweetness.

Overall: 7/10


Next up is another of my favorites that we tasted last week. I regret not getting another bottle today. It's sooooo good.

Sierra Nevada's Beer Camp West Coast Double IPA

8.5% ABV

Lemme just say, I would gladly have a fridge full of this beer and it wouldn't last long. My nose was in a playground of delectable aromas. From earthy and grassy to a sweeter alfalfa, bramble fruits, orange and finally pineapple. The pineapple I knew was there, I just couldn't put a name to it until it was almost empty. It's a sweet, spicy aroma and absolutely enticing.

Tastewise this beer is hoppy. If you can get past the pungent punch in the mouth, it's very creamy, grassy, and herbal. The alcohol is lifted up by the flavor of orange that hangs until the biscuity malts bring it back to your tongue.

Overall, this beer is wonderful, 10/10. If you've had a few IPA brews already and can perceive through the intensity, it's a very enjoyable beer.

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Beer Reviews

Brew Day - Prickly Pear Cider

by NilesJuly 11, 2014 13:29

Hey guys and gals!

Over the past week, I collected ripe prickly pears from my generous neighborhood cactus. Then I took off (most of) the spines by brushing them with a broom in the grass. Next time I'll try burning them off, I've heard that works a lot better.


I chopped the tops off and cut them in half, pureed them in a blender, and dumped the gloop into a stock pot.


I added 2 teaspoons of pectic enzyme and stirred it in. The enzymes break down the goopy, slime the pear puree was into chunks and juice. I let this sit overnight, then heated the puree to 160* to both pasteurize it and deactivate the enzyme.


I strained out the pulp while it was still hot and thin to separate the juice from the chunks and seeds.


From a bucket of pears, I got two gallons of puree and ultimately one gallon of beautiful, red juice. I dumped in a gallon of apple juice and heated this mixture to 160* for five minutes to pasteurize. I then put the stock pot in the fridge overnight to chill.


In the morning, I separated the juice into two one gallon containers, rehydrated wine yeast, and pitched it in at ~70*. Afterward, I thought that wine yeast may not have been the best idea, since the OG on this cider is 1.035 and will only be ~4% ABV when finished. The wine yeast will ferment it totally and it'll end up pretty dry.


Thanks for reading! Cheers!


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Brew Day