Posts Tagged ‘Brewing’

At the beginning of the year I brewed a porter.  I went to a LHBS with no idea of what I was wanting to brew and just kinda winged it.  I grabbed this and that, but tried to keep it simple.  When the beer was young, I really liked it.  All the flavors were really subtle and it wasn’t too dark.  But as it matured a couple more months, it became a completely different beast.  Much more robust.  Roastier.  Completely black.  And the hops really started showing themselves.  And I fell in love.  But it’s a love/hate relationship.  This beer is fantastic, but only on days when I’m in the mood for it’s fury.  When I’m not, it is just too much.

NDBrew Porter:

  • 6 lbs Dark LME
  • 1 lbs Dark DME
  • .5 lbs Chocolate Malt
  • .5 lbs Crystal 120
  • .5 oz Columbus pellets (60 min)
  • 1 oz Cascade pellets (5 min)

I made a 2L starter with half of the DME and pitched the whole thing.  The yeast was the problem with this brew.  I picked up a vial of White Labs WLP 001 and pitched it in the starter.  After 18 hours I had no activity (after looking at the vial, it was past the exp date by about 2 months).  After briefly panicking I remember I had a brown ale downstairs with some Wyeast 1028 in a secondary.  So I racked the brown off the cake and added some of the 1028 to my starter with the 001 still in it.  I went about the brew day trying not to worry about it.  When it was time to pitch, the starter was going crazy.  So I can’t really tell you what yeast to use.  I’m sure there was a contribution by some of the 001 but the majority of the ferment was done by the 1028.  Either way, this is a great beer, and I’m sure that picking either one of the yeast will still yield a very drinkable brew.



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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”

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Hefe Weizen

It’s been 6 whole weeks now since I brewed, it’s about time I publish something about it. Getting myself to sit down and blog has proved to be very difficult. Getting distracted and ending up just reading other blogs seems to be the norm. I just need to make it a habit and it’ll probably get easier with time. Anyways, here we go.

After sitting on my equipment and recipe kit for a week, I just couldn’t take it any longer and had to fit a brew day in. I used “Hank’s Hefe Weizen” kit from MidwestSupplies.com. It included:

  • 6lbs Wheat LME – Breiss
  • 1lbs Light DME – Munton’s
  • 8oz Carapils
  • 1oz Tradition (German) Hops – 5.7% AA
  • Wyeast 3068 Activator
  • Priming Sugar
  • Muslin Bag

I put 7 gallons of tap water in to my boil kettle and added it to the flame. The 7 gallons was just a guess as to how much I was going to need after accounting for evaporation, in actuality I had no idea how much I really needed and 7 gallons turned out to be too much. I brought the water up to 155° and added my muslin bag filled with Carapils. Within 4 minutes, my temperature had risen to 161°. It stayed around 161° even after turning the flame off and dropping and retrieving the thermometer for 20 some minutes. After a half an hour the temperature had finally came back down to 155°, just in time to take the grains out. I grabbed my measuring cup and rinsed the grain bag a couple of times with the hot water. I don’t know if this was necessary or not. Turn the flame back on.

Within 15 minutes I had a boil. I turned the flame back off and added my extracts. I had tried warming up the LME earlier, but by the time I needed it, I think it was pretty cool again. Then I dropped something else in to the water. The stupid ring from the lid came off and disappeared in to my wort. Luckily I did get it back out. Added my DME. I was surprised at how sticky that stuff gets. I dissolved the extracts as best I could. It was a bit difficult not having a spoon quite long enough to stir 7 gallons of water. I was also presented with something I hadn’t thought of. Adding all the extract had increased my volume. Duh. It was one thing I hadn’t thought of happening.

It took around 10 minutes to get all this done. I put the flame back under it and brought it back up to a boil. Another 15 and I was ready to add the hops. Re-using the muslin bag from the grain, I put in my pellets. Time to drink some more beer and watch the boil. After 45 minutes I wasn’t even close to my final volume so I decided to extend the boil to 90 minutes. In hindsight, this wasn’t a good idea. But 45 minutes later I was down to around 5 gallons.

Not having a wort chiller, I filled my bathtub up with cold water and added a bunch of ice. Carrying a hot kettle filled with 5 gallons of hot wort inside and into the bathroom is a daunting task. I did not burn myself though. It took about 50 minutes to cool the wort down to 75°. I poured it into my fermenting bucket, added the yeast, closed the lid and tried shaking it as much as I could. It was quite heavy. I added the airlock and to the basement it went.

I took a hydrometer reading. Reading 1.050 and then taking in account the sample was 70°, I figure my Original Gravity was about 1.051.

The fermentor sat on a towel in my basement to keep it off the cement floor. Every time I checked the thermometer I had sitting on the bucket, it read around 68°. I don’t think there was too much variance there. After 8 days I took another reading and came up with 1.014. The fermentor had a wonderful banana smell. I decided to then transfer into my secondary glass carboy. This went pretty well. Learning how to use the siphon properly was a bit tricky but I managed to get my beer into the secondary. I put the carboy back in the basement and let it sit for another 9 days.

Time to bottle. I took another hydrometer reading and was surprised to see the gravity had fallen another 2 points ending up at 1.012. Alcohol by Volume should be just over 5%. Right about where it should be. Oh boy was I excited. I washed all the bottles and ran them through the dry cycle in my dishwasher to sanitize them. When I opened the dishwasher up I didn’t think the bottles had really gotten hot enough, so I decided to enlist the help of my beautiful wife and rinse all the bottles with sanitizing solution prior to bottling. She rinsed, I filled and capped. An hour or so later I had 48 bottles of beer. But wait. Along the way, I ran into another mistake. When I was transferring the beer from carboy to bottling bucket, I was about half way when I realized I hadn’t added my priming sugar. Stop the siphon, boil and cool the sugar, and add it as gently as I can to the half filled bottling bucket. Continue filling said bucket. Even still today, I’m not sure if the sugar mixed completely with all of the beer.

Back to the basement went the bottles. Again the temperature stayed pretty constant around 68°. A week later I opened the first bottle. Actually two, my Dad was over helping me with another project. I was pleased to hear hiss when I popped the top but a tad let down when the head wasn’t what it was supposed to be. I presented a glass to my Dad and when he took a drink was surprised and said, “That’s beer!” He had thought it was iced tea. The color was dark and the head had completely gone away when he got his glass. All in all it tasted pretty good.

A few days later I opened a couple more bottles only to find the had not carbonated at all. I think this was from me forgetting to add the priming sugar first to the bottling bucket. These bottles also didn’t taste so good. A little worried, I figured some for time in the bottle to condition might help.

Having been in the bottle for 3 weeks now, my first full 5 gallon batch of beer is really good. Some of the bottles have a pretty aggressive head while some of the other have a decent one. They all are carbonated and the flavor has matured quite well. The color is darker than it should be and it is a tad more bitter as well. I think I detect a bit of caramel flavor. The body is full, preventing me from drinking a whole lot at once. The clove spice from the yeast can be a bit sharp at times.

As a whole however, this beer is very tasty. My wife seems to really think it is good. She doesn’t normally drink any thing besides Bud Light, so her saying that she enjoys my beer really makes me feel good.

Things I learned:

  • 7 gallons is too much water to start with
  • Adding your extract will increase your volume
  • Shut the flame off before you reach your steeping temperature
  • Don’t warm up the LME so soon
  • Remove the lid ring from the LME before pouring it in
  • Boiling for extended amounts of time has several consequences
    • Hops continue to bitter the beer
    • Color darkens
    • Caramel flavors become apparent
  • A wort chiller would be very useful
  • A longer spoon would be as well
  • Leave the bottom cap ON the siphon when transferring to secondary
  • Put the priming sugar in the bottling bucket BEFORE you add the beer
  • Be patient – Time only helps

So now what? I’m definitely itching to brew again. Right now I think my next brew will either be a Brown Ale or a Scottish Ale.  I’m leaning towards the Scottish Ale. It’ll end up being another extract kit from MidwestSupplies.com again. I haven’t ordered it yet because I just can’t seem to bring myself to spend the money right now. I may get over that, the itch is getting bad, or I may just wait a few more weeks.

That’s it for now. Cheers!

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