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Next up, Cream Ale.  I figured it was about time I tried brewing something below 15 SRM.  Who knows, my “yellow beer” drinking parents may even enjoy this one.  Looking through the BJCP guidelines, a cream ale is essentially an American style lager made with ale yeast.  It should be a clean beer with neither the malt or the hops being too dominate.

This got me to thinking about the recipe.  It’s just an extract kit ordered from MidwestLiberty Cream Ale.

  • 6 lbs. Breiss Golden LME
  • 8 oz. Cara-Pils malt
  • 2 oz. Cascade (5.4% AA)
  • Wyeast 1056 Activator

The directions call for an ounce of hops at 60 minutes and the second ounce at 2 minutes.  It’s a typical Midwest recipe.  They love the 2 minute addition.  I think though that this 2 minute addition will put too much hop aroma/flavor into the beer and the 60 minute addition will bitter it up too much.  So this is where I plan on deviating from my usual brewing procedure and would like some input as to what you think.

From what I’ve read/heard from various places online, extract only needs to be boiled long enough to sterilize it since all the hot/cold break material was taken care of during the making of it. 10 to 15 minutes is sufficient for this.  The only reason I can see for boiling extract for a full hour is to achieve your bitterness but that is hop related not extract.  I understand that the gravity of the boil impacts the utilization of your hops but if a guy only has to boil the hops in a given gravity for 20 minutes to achieve the desired level of bitterness, there wouldn’t be any reason to boil for 40 minutes prior to adding the hops unless you were looking for those melanoidin reactions, which a cream ale doesn’t need.

Plugging the numbers into ProMash, a 1 oz. addition at 60 minutes would give me 26.6 IBU’s, far too many, I feel, for the style.  The 2 minute addition would add another 4.4 bringing the total up to 31.  I think the 2 minute addition would also add too much aroma/flavor.  Tweaking around with the numbers, I discovered that a 2 oz. addition at 20 minutes would give me 17.9 IBU’s.  I’m thinking that I would also get just a touch of flavor/aroma out of the 20 minute addition but not so much that it would be terribly noticeable.

Here’s the plan.

  • Begin with 5.5 – 5.75 gallons in the kettle.  Lower than usual to account for the shortened boil time.
  • Add the Cara-Pils to the water and bring up to 170º F.
  • Remove the grain and add the LME.  I think I’ll also put in the chiller at this point.
  • Bring up to a boil and add the hops.
  • Boil for 20 minutes for my bittering.
  • Flame out, chill, rack, aerate, pitch.

I would like to know what you think.  Am I off my rocker for considering such a drastic change?  Are my numbers working out?  Do you anticipate any problems I might encounter?

Cheers!

A man walks into a bar and orders a beer then looks into his pocket. He does this over and over again. Finally the bartender asks why he orders a beer and after drinking it he looks into his pocket. The man responded, “I have a picture of my wife in there and when she starts to look good then I’ll go home.”

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First All-Grain Batch

Wednesday, I finally took the leap and brewed an all grain batch.

Overall impressions:  That was super easy with just a little more to clean up and it didn’t take too much longer than an extract batch.

I brewed a kit from Midwest.  The Big River Brown.  I chose this kit because the extract version I made was probably one of the best beers I have made.  The recipe included:

  • 11 lbs. Domestic 2-Row barley
  • 12 oz. Caramel 80°L
  • 4 oz. Special B
  • 4 oz. Chocolate Malt
  • 1 oz. Cascade 5.4% (60 min)
  • 1 oz. Fuggle 4.3% (5 min)
  • Wyeast #1028 London Ale (Made a 2L starter)

I was a little leary of using the Fuggles because Goose Island uses them in their Nut Brown and I wasn’t impressed with that beer, but what the heck, I gave it a try.

My mash was a bit on the high side, probably close to 155ºF, but I didn’t discover this until the end when I checked on the temp and saw it was at 153ºF.  My thermometer is really slow to give a reading (it’s getting replaced here quick).  My lauter when really smoothly.  Homemade CPVC manifold in the bottom of my cooler.  I did end up with too much wort, but that is something that is easily remedied.

The rest of the brew went pretty normally.  I was surprised when I chilled the wort.  Watching the cold break happen and seeing all those proteins floating around was impressive.

All and all I think it went really well.  It’s happily fermenting away in the closet, a little on the cold side but that is just how it has to be in the winter.

This batch is also going to be the first batch I keg. Yay!  I bought a 7.4 cubic foot chest freezer from Menards that is getting the faucet treatment.  I’m looking forward to pulling my first pint.

Things I learned:

  • All-Grain is super easy.
  • Boil overs can happen in the blink of an eye, even with only 3 gallons in an 34 quart pot.
  • I need to back off on the amount of sparge water.
  • The cold break is cool.
  • Maybe some Irish moss should be purchased.
  • My stir-plate works great!

Cheers!

A grasshopper walks into a bar, pulls up a stool, and orders a beer. The bartender pours him a tall, frothy mug and says “You know… we have a drink named after you.” To which the grasshopper replies, “You have a drink named Bob?”

Been awhile

I’ll try to do a better update sometime in the next week, but I’m gonna do an all grain batch soon. The grain should arrive with my new kegging system.

Tax refunds are wonderful things. I didn’t even have to waste too many beer bullets.

Dirty 30 – Impressions

Well, I brewed and bottled my first original recipe.  Now it time to taste.  I can’t say that this was the first bottle opened, in fact, it is probably over half gone, but this particular glass made me really appreciate the beer that I crafted.

The recipe started as a brown ale but I wanted to cut back on some of the roast and introduce a bit of nuttiness.  That was accomplished.  Too well.  This beer has NO roast character.  I don’t even think it can be classified as a brown ale anymore.  It is closer to an Amber or Scottish Ale.  That doesn’t however deter from the deliciousness of this brew.

Up front it hits you with some bitterness.  The presence of the bitter does subside however.  If I were to change anything, it would be this.  A few points lower with the IBU’s just to give it a better start.  As the beer warms, the hop aroma comes through ever so slightly in the background and you get hit with some wonderful caramel/toffee flavors.  That is my favorite part of this beer.  The dark caramel taste you get as you finish off the glass leaves you wanting another.

And then there is the lacing.  It looks so beautiful.  As you get down to the end, you notice the head is still there and has been leaving traces upon your glass marking every wonderful drink.  It made me realize that I crafted this beer very well.  Probably more luck than anything else, but the final product of a great brewing day, has turned out better than I could have expected.

I’m hooked.

Cheers!

Building a Wort Chiller

Tell me if you find this to be helpful or if you have any questions. Your feedback is useful so be sure to leave a comment. -ND

50 Feet of 3/8″ copper tubing.  What more could a brewer want for Christmas?  Maybe 1/2″ but I’m not going to complain mainly because I didn’t have to pay for it.  Copper prices are just out of hand.

I did a bit of research and found some place that suggested as least two inches between the side of your kettle and the wort chiller.  It sounded like sound advice to me.  Measuring the kettle yielded 12 1/2″ wide by 16″ tall.  Two inches of clearance on both sides brought it down to 8 1/2″ and then taking into account the 3/8″ OD of both sides and I wound up with a needed inside diameter of the chiller to be 7 3/4″.

So the search began.  What could I wind this copper around? Carboy? Too big. Coffee can? Too small. Propane? Too Big. Paint Can? 6 1/2″, close. It may have to do.  That is what I almost ended up using, until I had one last thought.  What about this sauce pan? 7 1/2″!  That’s even closer.  But what about the handle?  This could cause some problems.  Let’s take it off.  There is a screw block molded right on.  Nothing a hacksaw can’t handle, just don’t tell the wife.

The copper came in a two layer roll with the convergence from layers in the middle.  I thought that would be a good place to start.  Taking the top coils and twisting them clockwise and the bottom coils counter-clockwise, I carefully got the middle coil to wrap around the pan with out kinking.  Then it was just a matter of continuing the top coil around the pan, working from the inside of the coil out, moving the pan up the coils as needed, until I got to the end.  Then take the pan out and flip the copper over and do the same thing with the other side.  Taking my time, not wanting to bend the copper too fast, it went pretty well.

Then it was just a matter of getting the pan out and the coils were done.  The lip on the pan needed a little coaxing.  But having it there helped keep the pan up as the coil grew.

Time to make the in/out pipes.  Originally I had planned on using some elbows and soldering straight pieces so I wouldn’t have to bend the tube and possibly kink it.  Unfortunately the elbows I bought were too big and I didn’t discover this until it was too late to go get the right size.  So bend them is what I did.

Working slowly I brought the hot side up the outside of the chiller.  I did this because I thought it would be a bit difficult/dangerous to be soldering on the inside of the coils.  Getting the tube to run up the side close to the coils proved to be harder than I first thought.  I needed 16 inches from the bottom to clear the top of the coil and then a bit extra to bend over so I started about 22 inches from the end of one side.

I wanted the cold side to be right next to the hot side so they could be tacked together.  This was merely for aesthetic reasons, but I also discovered it added a bit of rigidity to the mix.  I ended up with about 4 inches extra on the cold side that I just cut off so the ends would be in relatively the same area.

Time to add some solders for structure.

I started with the neck, which you can see above, and then put one on the cold side at the top so it wouldn’t flop around.

This one was the worst looking joint made.

Then I put a couple on the bottom to keep it in place.

One more at  the top of the hot side and a few in the middle for structure and the soldering was done.

Wanting to be able to use this either inside or out, I opted for vinyl tubing to supply the water from either a garden hose or the kitchen faucet.  All it took was a brass fitting, a plastic barb and a few hose clamps.  To be able to hook it up to the sink, I also need a sink adapter.  Putting it together is as easy as twisting the pieces together and tightening the clamps down.

And the finished project.

I got to test it out the next day and it cooled 5 gallons of wort down to 67 F in just 10 minutes using only the water coming out of the kitchen faucet.  Granted it is winter and the water from my tap is 45 F.  I expect it to be a little slower in the summer but it shouldn’t be too bad.  With 50′ of tubing, it has a lot of surface area to cool the wort quite quickly.

I’m very happy with how it turned out and can say, “Yeah, I made that.”

Cheers!

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas! Health and Happiness to you and your families.

I got 50′ of 3/8″ copper tubing. I’ll be making myself a wort chiller sometime in the next week. I have the basic idea in my head, but the specifics are still a little fuzzy. If any of you have some input, I would appreciate it all. When I do put it together, I’ll write up a post and include plenty of pictures.

Merry Christmas!

Bottled the D30BB

First off, I’m getting quite a bit of traffic from the new group for brewers over at MoreBeer.  Thanks for coming over to my blog and checking it out guys.  It’s all a work in progress.  I’ve turned my About page to a Brew Gear page and have only made it to my fermentors.  I’m still trying to get all the BJCP Style Guidelines over on my site.  I think I’ve made it up to Dark Lagers.  The rest of the links work, but they take you straight over to the BJCP website.  Feel free to leave some feedback or ask some questions.  I love talking about this stuff but don’t have anyone locally to chat with.

If you haven’t already signed up over at MoreBeer.com/brewer, go do it.  If you create an account before the first of March, you will be entered into a drawing to win a ten gallon brew sculpture.  You will also be getting into a community that is run for and by brewers.  It’s still new, so bare that in mind, but it has a ton of potential.  I for one am really looking forward to seeing how it evolves.

In homebrew realted news, I bottles my Dirty Thirty Birthday Brown yesterday.  It spent 14 days in the primary and the airlock had stopped bubbling.

Start to finish took around two and a half hours.  I didn’t have the luxury of my wife helping me out this time, but once I found my groove things went really smoothly.  I did, however have to rack twice.  After I had racked to my bottling bucket, I realized I forgot to add the priming sugar.  This isn’t the first time I have done this.

I cleaned out the fermenter and drained the beer back into it.  As that was going on, I added five ounces of corn sugar to one cup of water and boiled for a few minutes.  It got cooled and put into the bottling bucket, this time before racking the beer back in.  Argh, the frustrations of my over excitement.  At least I got a lot of trub back out of the beer that was brought over with the first rack.

I ended up with forty-eight bottles and they are now sitting, hopefully not so idly, in my closet.

I took a hydrometer reading, and it was really high.  1.022 or so.  I didn’t have a thermometer so I don’t know what the temperature was, but it was under sixty.  I’m a bit worried that it is too high but the airlock had stopped moving.  It may be from the brown malt I used.  Just steeping instead of mashing may have contributed to some unfermentable sugars/starches.

I did try it.  Not real sure what I think.  It’s not as bitter as the last beer I made, even though the hopping was almost the same.  That really pushes home to me the fact that the roasted grains add their fair share of bittering.  I’ll have to wait and see.  It won’t be long.  I’m an impatient brewer.  Last batch, I opened my first bottle after just four days.

Things I learned:

  • Check the hydrometer reading BEFORE bottling.
  • Add the priming sugar BEFORE racking.
  • Bottling Sucks.
  • Steeping grains that need mashed may give your hydrometer a hard time.
  • I need to post more often and perhaps include a joke or two.  People are reading.

That’s it for now guys.  Thanks for reading.  Comment away.  Cheers!

A pirate walks into a bar and orders a drink. The bartender looks down and says “You know that you have a steering wheel in your pants”
The pirate replies “Ay, it’s drivin’ me nuts”