Posts Tagged ‘Brown Ale’

I brewed what was supposed to be a Black Butte Porter clone back in September.  It wasn’t cloned, but it just might be the best beer I have made to date.  So I’m going to brew it again, Today!  I just need to get some thoughts down.

Last time, due to an ordering oversight, I had to change the recipe slightly.  I didn’t order enough Crystal 80, so I made up the difference with some 120 I had left over sitting around.

  • 6# Light LME
  • 1.5# Muntons 55/45 Wheat DME
  • 8 oz Crystal 80
  • ~3 oz Crystal 120
  • 6 oz Pale Chocolate Malt – 200L
  • 6 oz Chocolate Malt -350L
  • 4 oz Cara-pils
  • .5 oz Galena (60 min)
  • .25 oz Cascade (30 min)
  • .25 oz Mt. Hood (5 min)
  • Wyeast 1968 London ESB
  • 2 stage starter – 800 mL, 2000 mL (I want ALOT of yeast)

Last time around, I had this beer in the keg and carbonated (very forced) in 10 days.  It’s the quickest I have gone from kettle to glass.

That is my secondary goal this time around as well.  Kettle to glass in 10 days.  The primary goal being a duplication of the beer; this will be the first time I have brewed a recipe twice.

The 10 day schedule will hopefully look something like this.

  • Day 1 / Brew
  • Day 1-6 / Ferment
  • Day 7-8 / Cold Crash
  • Day 9 / Carbonate
  • Day 10 / Drink

With the amount of yeast I have in the starter, it should be no problem at all getting to Terminal Gravity in 6 Days.  It’ll probably be one in less than 4.  And the wonderful thing about the 1968 yeast strain is how well it clears.  The first stage of the starter was clear after being in the fridge for only 12 hours.

I’ll update this post tomorrow with pics and progress, but for now I’ll leave you with how the second stage of the starter looked this morning after only 10 hours.




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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!


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?”

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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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The Big River Brown that I brewed was so good, really good.  So good, in fact, that it is now all gone.  It  started with a nice roasty touch and then the hop flavor would come through just right.  The finish was sweet and crisp.  The head would last to the bottom and even leave some lacing on the glass.  I will be making this one again.  The last bottle got drank on Friday, the 5th, when I was brewing up my latest batch.

This marks the first time I have created and brewed my own recipe.  The foundation for this batch is rooted in the Big River Brown.  I wanted something similar since it was so delicious but not quite as roasty with a bit more caramel, nutty flavor.  The recipe is as follows:

  • 7 lbs. Amber LME
  • 12 oz. Crystal 80
  • 8 oz. Brown Malt
  • 2 oz. Special B
  • 2 oz. Roasted Barley
  • .75 oz. Glacier Hops 7.4% (60 min)
  • .75 oz. Glacier Hops 7.4% (2 min)
  • Wyeast #1028 London Ale

The difference is in the malt extract and the addition of the Brown malt.  The Big River Brown was 3.3 lbs of Amber and 3.3 lbs of Dark LME.  Also the hops I got this time were 7.4% AA instead of 6.0% I used last time, causing for the reduction in amount used to try to achieve the same level of bitterness.  Although, not having a scale, I just had to guesstimate the amount, first splitting my 2 oz. pack in half and then taking roughly a fourth of each half away.  It should be relatively close.

I decided to go with the Amber LME to try to cut back on the roast flavor while introducing more caramel and added some Brown malt to the Specialty grains to get the bit of nuttiness.  Not being real familiar with ingredients yet, it is kind of just a shot in the dark.

The brew was pretty typical with the exception of my steeping grains.  I knew that the Brown malt needed to be mashed in order for the starches to convert.  I don’t have the necessary equipment to do that.  So I thought about steeping the grains in a lesser amount of water to try to do a mini-mini-mash.  And then I was given John Palmer’s “How to Brew” the day before as my birthday gift from my wonderful lovely wife.  In the part about specialty grains, Palmer actually says to steep in a smaller amount of water, less than a gallon per pound.  So that’s what I did.  I added my pound and a half of grain to a gallon and a quarter of water and tried to keep it around 150º for half an hour.

It got poured into my main kettle being measured and noted that the grains soaked up a quarter gallon of water.  Having friends and family over distracted me a bit and the wort boiled for a little while before I noticed what was happening.

The hops got added, dumping them straight in without a bag and I made sure to start a timer on my phone.

I still have to rely on my bathtub for cooling not having an immersion chiller yet.  This time, however, I turned on the shower head and let it spray under the water level directly on the side of my kettle.  It worked out great, getting the wort down to 70º in only 40 minutes.  That’s without the addition of ice.

I pitched the yeast and threw it in my closet with a couple of shirts over the fermentor.  There was activity the next morning.  I had to use my closet as my basement is getting too cold.  I will take the shirts off and put it down there when fermentation is finished to semi lager the beer.

On a side note, I got to drink my first Lambic.  It was a peach Lambic from Lindeman and all I have to say is, “Yummy.”  I wish I had more.  Cheers!

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I got to brew the other day, other day meaning on the 4th. It’s been almost two weeks now. All in all it went really well. Having some prior experience brewing a full 5 gallon batch made me feel a lot more comfortable. It was just another kit from Midwest Supplies. I think I’m going to do a couple more kits and try to dial in my techniques before I start designing my own recipes. But I have decided that I am going to stick with brown ales for a while.

The kit I got was the Big River Brown. It included:

  • 3.3 lbs Amber LME
  • 3.3 lbs Dark LME
  • 12 oz Caramel 80°L
  • 2 oz Special B
  • 2 oz Roasted Barley
  • 2 oz Glacier hops
  • Wyeast 1028 London Ale Yeast Activator Pack

It is a 60 minute boil with a target gravity of 1.044-1.048 for 5 gallons.

Knowing that last time I had too much water I started with only 6.25 gallons and was determined to only boil for 60 minutes. I brought my water up to 150º and threw in my specialty grains. I held the temp there for 30 minutes. This made me realize I’m basically doing the same thing an all grain brewer does when they mash and it probably isn’t quite necessary when just steeping grains. I will continue to it this way however with the intent of someday moving to all grain.

After steeping I increased the flame and brought the tea up to a boil. I added my LME and had to change the propane tank. I knew it was getting low and already had an extra tank on hand. Doing so caused a heat loss of about 10º so it took and additional 10 minutes to bring it back up to a boil.

As soon as I saw the smallest indication I was reaching a boil I started my timer and threw in my bittering hops. 1oz Glacier at 6% AA. I put my hop pellets in a muslin bag but am considering just throwing them in the boil without the bag next time. With 2 minutes left in the boil I added the second addition of hops, 1 oz, and turned the flame off at the 60 minute mark. This is where I had a question. Do you take the hops out of the wort at flame out or wait until you put it in the fermentor? With the bags it makes getting them out easy at flame out but if you don’t use the bags you can’t. Do the hops continue to isomerize during the cooling period? If they do then I may need to continue using the bags until I get an immersion chiller. Using the bathtub to cool the wort takes at least an hour, this time taking 80 minutes to get the wort to 70º.

45 minutes into the boil I decided it was time to get my fermentor sanitized. This is where my problem of the day began. When I went downstairs to get my fermentor I was greeted with some fuzz. I almost freaked out. There was mold, mildew, bacteria, whatever it was growing. Not a lot in the fermentor but my bottling hose and bottling wand were covered. They had been placed in the bottling bucket and the fermentor and been put on top. Just stacking buckets to save space. What I came to realize is the equipment must not have been totally dry when it got put away providing a good place for the bugs to take hold.

So what do I do. I was really concerned that just washing and sanitizing wasn’t going to be good enough. I washed the fermentor out with soap and water and then got out the bleach. I bleached the heck out of it. And then made certain I rinsed it thoroughly. I made my wife smell the fermentor when I was done not telling her I had bleached it and asked if she could smell anything. When she said no I was satisfied I had done a good job. I’m still a bit concerned I didn’t rid the fermentor completely of all the bugs but there wasn’t much more I could do.

So I cooled the wort and dumped it into the fermentor. Closed the lid and shook. Shook and Shook. Trying to aerate the wort is the probably the worst part of the my process. After several back breaking minutes I pitched the yeast and sealed it up.

My OG came out to 1.046 at 68º. Correcting for temperature, it ends up being 1.047. I’m not too sure what the final volume ended up being. The next day I went downstairs and was pleased to find fermentation had started. Hopefully it was the yeast and not the funk in the fermentor. It was going to get cold that night so I wrapped a flannel shirt around my fermentor. I don’t know where my thermometer wandered off to, so I can’t be too sure about where my fermentation temps were.

A few days ago, I checked and it seems that fermentation is complete. I haven’t taken a reading but there are no more bubbles coming from the airlock. I took off the shirt in an attempt to chill the beer a bit to aid in clarification.

I ordered a new bottling wand and tubing. I don’t want to take any chances with the funky old stuff. They should be here on Tuesday. That will be 2 solid weeks since brewing. I’ll bottle then and hope for the best.

Things I learned:

  • Checking on all parts of the process prior will be useful
  • Gather up all the stuff needed before hand will save some stress and worry during the brew
  • If you don’t use bags for the hops you can’t take them out at flame out
  • Don’t put any equipment away until it is completely dry
  • Using ice in the ice bath helps in chilling the wort by about 20 minutes or so
  • Using bleach to clean/sanitize isn’t really for me
  • I need to get some PBW and some Starsan
  • Drinking throughout the process makes the notes at the end of the session a bit scarce
  • I love brewing


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