Monday, January 23, 2012

Another Successful Brew Day

Well, the Amber is bubbling away, with a vigorous fermentation that had started by 5:00pm yesterday. At last check this morning, we were getting about 2-3 bubbles per second, and the wort/beer is churning over aggressively. About three inches of krausen on the top of each carboy.

Things we learned:

1) A proper scale would be nice. I'll be curious to see how much 2-row we actually used (we can weigh the remaining grain in the bag, and back into our actual recipe). The grain mill was a success, though.

2) Carboys are a bitch, and I'm glad I still have my right index finger. I'm all the more eager to get stainless steel everything. And in the mean time we'll just remain extra careful.

3) Apparently our water/grain combo was perfect for pH without us doing anything. Good call on buying pH strips. Now lets figure out what it means, and what we should be changing.

4) Brewing still took longer than anticipated, especially with regards to sparging, and then surprisingly with chilling. The chiller took longer than last time - don't know why. On sparging, lets just assume it was more efficient. Which brings me to efficiency.

5) Why don't we know how to use a hydrometer? I'm pretty confident that the 1.075 reading pre-boil was accurate. Then we added 40% as much water over again and boiled, and had a measure of 1.020. Based on my math, and the fact that post-boil should be hire than pre-boil, it should have been around 1.06. So I don't have any idea whats happening. Seems possible it didn't mix well before we took a reading. But there is a potential solution.

6) Get a 15 gallon kettle, with gallon marks on the interior, allowing us to have a full 10 gallon boil. The kettle we have works, and the price was right, but the target should be boiling all 10 gallons. Then any sample will be a fair assessment of the gravity. No last minute water additions.

The recipe:

16 lbs Domestic 2-Row (we think? To be verified later)
2 lbs 40L Crystal
2 lbs 120L Crystal
1 lb Aromatic
1 lb Barley Flakes

Mashed for 60 minutes at 154. Sparged over another hour at 165-170.

2 oz Centennial at 60min
1 oz Cascade at 30
1 oz Cascade at 10 (target 41 IBU)

American Ale Yeast

All told, a pretty successful brew day, with a few minor set backs. Some time this week, the Oatmeal Stout (our last partial-mash/extract batch) should be ready for tasting, and next Saturday we can rack the Amber and bottle/keg the IPA. I was thinking, if we wanted to get even more experiment, we could half-keg, half-bottle each, and dry hop what we keg. Either way, we need a ton of bottles by next Saturday.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The IPA's moving up in the world

Literally. Too cold down in the basement given the recent weather, so I carried both carboys upstairs and put them behind the sofa. So that's three days at 50-60F, and then three more at 60-70F. They were still fermenting at 50-60, but they're really humming along at 60-70. From the White Labs webpage, both yeasts optimal fermenting temp is around 68-70, so we should get a cleaner, more fully fermented beer at this temp.

At some point in the future, we should think about creating a fermentation chamber we can accurately control the temperature of - we could probably do so for under a hundred bucks. Some plywood, foam insulation, a mini fridge (or AC unit?) off of CL, a wall heater, and a temperature controller to plug the fridge and the heater into. Plans for the temperature controller would be more or less like this. Not too hard, and only 30 bucks. Then some day, a chest freezer to lager in. Actually knowing the temperature we ferment at is sort of critical to quality control and reproducing the beer we make.

All in the future.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Update on the IPA

Alright, so we haven't posted the recipe yet, but I thought I'd add an update on the IPA brewed most recently.

We split the batch between two 6.5 gallon fermenters, and took that as an opportunity to experiment - one was pitched with White Labs California Ale Yeast 001, the other with White Labs California V Ale Yeast 051. 051 is supposed to be fruitier than 001, so it will be interesting to see what we prefer. I topped up each with some drinking water to bring them to a full 5 gallons, and they are humming along nicely (at the left).

Things we learned:

The heat sticks are working great, and keep a better rolling boil in 10gal than we used to see on the stove in 5.

The kettle is only 12.5gal - maybe we need to upgrade to a full half-barrel kettle in the near term, and use the old one as an HLT?

The mash tun worked perfectly, but we need to control PH and mineral content better to improve our efficiency. Temperature came in as expected, and held steady for the duration of the mash. Fly sparging went well - thanks Bob.

The immersion chiller actually works very well (miraculously), and brought 10 gallons to 70 degrees in about a half hour, using around 15 gallons of water from the tap. This is perfect, since we'll recycle that water for the next brew session.

Unfortunately, filling first one carboy and then the other resulted in one having significantly more trub, though on the whole we managed to leave quite a bit of the cold break and other crap behind in the kettle. Perhaps a better way to split between two carboys in the future? Or maybe upgrade to 15 gallon fermenters? (Bung-style kegs?)

Anything I missed?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Starting Back Up

And, might as well point out a few hilarious points from before:

1) I set my 28th birthday as the target for opening a brewery. 6 months and counting, guys.
2) Kevin said in 2007 that he figured we'd be up-and-running with All Grain inside of 2 years. Eh, not too far off...

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Hop Shortage Strikes Again

While we've had to deal with a general shortage of hops and an increase in hop prices, tonight was the first time they have actually prevented us from brewing exactly as intended. We haven't had an IPA in a while, so we were going to make a new batch. I decided to try to re-brew the Fool In The Rain; recipe below.

The Fool In the Rain (this shit is delicious)

8 lbs LME
1.5 lbs Domestic 2-Row
.75 lbs 40L Crystal
.5 lbs Victory
.5 lbs Barley Flakes
3 ounces Simcoe Hops (~16% AAU)
1 ounce Amarillo Hops (~6-8% AAU)
White Labs CA Ale Yeast

50 minute mash at ~155F, ounce Simcoe at 60, half ounce Simcoe at 30, ounce Amarillo at 15, ounce and a half Simcoe dry hopped. Turns out nice a balanced, with a decent bite to it, but not harsh. A lot of Hop flavor and aroma, smells delicious, an IPA with general appeal. That said, it's fairly bitter too, on account of those ounces of Simcoe, a real high alpha acid hop.

Tonight though, because Simcoe was unavailable, hops as follows: 1 ounce Summit at 60, 1 ounce Summit at 30, 1 ounce Amarillo at 15, 1 ounce Amarillo dry hopped.

While it's a bummer we couldn't do as we intended, at least we've been forced to experiment a little more. I know I like the first FR, so it'll be good to see if this version is better, worse, or just different. Summit should be a little more harsh, but since it's just for bittering, I'm not too concerned. Sticking to Amarillo for flavor and aroma should provide a citrus/apricot sort of flavor, while the Simcoe is just straight oranges. And the grist will make a moderately dark pale ale, but still definitely a pale.

In other news, we royally fucked up paying attention and let that shit boil over repeatedly. Im not looking forward to cleaning up. But that's a problem for another day. Like tomorrow.

I was gonna add some pictures, but on further review, they're all really shitty.

See Below

Not to steal Allan's thunder, but its time we get the site back up and running. Everyone should post; doesn't have to be about brewing, just beer in general, thoughts, random shit. Make it happen!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

127 Bottles of Beer on the wall.

Last night Joe and I undertook the seedy underbelly of home brewing, bottling. And this was bottling to the extreme by the end of the night we had bottled 127 beers and also filled half a pony keg. The three brews in question were the Orange Honey Wheat, Chamomile Beer and a very thick Stout. We are very excited to see how they turn out, we pre-tasted each beer all seem delicious and different from what we have done before.

At the end of the night as a reward with our neighbors we opened another Barley Wine, everyone seemed to enjoy the sampling they had. This was my first time trying the Barley Wine in its current state, I must say the sweetness combined with the thickfreakness make it one of the best beers we have ever made.

Pictures to follow.