Friday, April 27, 2012

I have not abandoned this account!

Well, I kinda did.. But..

Work has gotten in the way of the brewing (and most every other tweaker projects I had laying around) I travel, a *lot* now, and setting aside a week or two to manage an actively fermenting stout is just not in the cards currently. 

There has been activity as of late tho.. Built a new counterflow chiller, and working on a new mash tun..  Our hops we planted last year (way late) seem to be coming back.. Well, 2 of the 6 rhizomes, anyway.. That reminds me, I need to go out back, and check on them puppies..

Off to New Orleans, then to Belgorod, Russia for a bit.. Be back later..  :D

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Computer problems, Family Et Al.

Sorry, been rather busy as of late.. Had both laptops out of commission for a while, one due to a botched OS upgrade (Ubuntu 11.04 needs some work, you guys at Canonical) the other one.. Well.. Netbook keyboards aren't beerproof, as I found out.

I did score a replacement netbook keyboard for $19! (Google HQRP, they're where I got it from)

A couple updates.

We have a Barley Crusher now!  2 Brews done now with the BC, and our tun efficiency is up around 10% higher than the crush we got from the LHBS! (Default 0.039" gap from the factory on the BC)

Decided to lighten up our signature IPA (Safeword IPA) by pulling back on the grains a bit, and swapping out cascade for Citra hops. We're calling it "Safeword for Bubblegummers" as its gonna end up below 5%ABV.

We got some Hop rhizomes in, but have yet to plant them. I know, its like *really* late in the year now to put them in the ground, but, Hey.. I've been busy. :)

My Appfelwein is still in primary (I think over 2 months now) Its clear enough to read a paper through, but its going to get at least another month in primary before I rack it to a corney, and age it another 3-4 months.

I spent some time in the Pacific Northwest (Spokane, WA) to hang out with my sister for a while.. It was a good thing. Alas, my pipeline got all emptied out, and its taking me a bit to get back into the brewing groove.

The Grill pictured in my fire safety post has been retired, and in its place is a shiny new Standard Webber charcoal grill.. Did up some NY strips on it the other night, and life is good again.

I'll get back on the brewing, and back on keeping this blog updated.

Happy brewing, and LETS GET THE SUMMER ON!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Fire safety, Always...

Just a reminder, a fire extinguisher is cheap, and absolutely essential if you're using gas..

Leaving the grill on high, and walking away resulted in a completely out-of-control grill fire that was going to light the porch overhang up too.

Hose water would have been a bad idea (grease fire) and a Fire etinguisher was the only thing to use.

So, I'm replacing an etinguisher, and a BBQ, instead of calling the fire department, and having to repair my house.

Stay safe all.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Trying something new..

So, I'm branching out.. Trying something new..

How about a hard cider?

Indeed.. A nice, clean hard cider might be good, as the spring heats up into summer.

So, I came across this recipe for EdWorts Apfelwein It sounds good, it seemed simple, and cheap. Im willing to go for it.

Found the Applejuice at a local chain supermarket, spent less than $20 to get 5 gals.  The Dextrose (corn) sugar was 99cents a Lb a the local homebrew supply, and the montrachet yeast was 60 cents a package.

I actually deviated from EdWorts recipe / process in a couple minor ways..

1) I stashed the bottles of juice up-side down in a bucket of Star-San before opening / dumping into the carboy.

2) I boiled 1/2 Gallon of applejuice with the dextrose for a few minutes, then chilled on an icebath before adding that.

3) I pitched 2X packets of Montrachet yeast, not 1.

With the added Dextrose, and the fermenting 'power' of the Montrachet wine yeast, I think this should settle on around an 8 - 8.5% ABV nosh.

For the geekish, I got an OG of 1.063, and will probably get a FG of 0.999 or so, if the Montrachet does its job.

Primary for 4 weeks, then bottle for 2+ (way plus) months, or keg and age a month.

Apparently, the longer you age this, the better it gets.

Not bad tho, Less than $25 to make 5 gals of 8+% beverage.

Read through the thread linked above.. I'll bet it'll make you want to try a batch too.. It sounds pretty awesome.

Edit: 48 Hrs into fermentation its super active, easily 2 bubbles / sec, and WHEW BOY does it smell off-putting. The yeast (As I understand) are metabolizing sulfur compounds in the applejuice, and gassing them off, so the airlock (indeed the room) smells pretty much like freshly peeled, hardboiled eggs.

I understand this is perfectly normal, and will pass in a few days, but man oh man, this is a new one for me, LOL..

Monday, February 28, 2011

Stout, stout, stout.

5.25 gals of the Black leather stout is hapily bubbling away.

This one landed at 1.065OG, and I'm trying a different yeast.. Wyeast 1272 American Ale II.

Supposed to be a bit fruitier, and more flocculant than 1056, so.. We'll see.
I also have a shiny new 44Qt kettle coming in Via UPS soon, so I'm all excited about that.

Eventually, I'll finalize a design, and get part numbers, but I'm attempting to build a digital temp. control that will do heating and cooling together for less than $40. Its going to be super simple, and I promise to post pics, and part sources here. Stay tuned!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Da Wheat!

First real wheat beer got did today.

Its super pale, and should be roughly 5.2%ABV when done, making it a little heavier than most wheats, but screw it.. Its winter.. We need heat, and the liquid jacket alcohol gives you can stave off chill cheaper than turning up the thermostat. :)

So, here it is.. The recipe as we brewed today: (5.5Gal batch)

7 Lbs German malted wheat
2.5 Lbs Vienna malt
2 Lbs Domestic 2-row

1 Oz Tettnanger, 45 Minutes
1.11 Oz Czech Saaz, 15 Minutes.

Pitched a dry package of Danstar Nottingham yeast.

Hopefully, we should be able to get this to the keg, and drinkable within 2 to 3 weeks!

The malted wheat smells awesome, but its a totally different smell than the barley when crushed. I'm pretty excited to see what this "light" beer tastes like.


Monday, February 14, 2011

"Smokin' Redhead" Fail.. :(

I think I need to review my yeast propagation technique.

The rauchmalt beer I recently tried was getting skunkier, and skunkier out of the airlock. The fermentation didnt look right, and we finally pulled the plug and dumped it. It was a horrible smell.

I seriously want to try this one again soon (next?) as the color, and smokiness was so awesome...

I think this time I'll stick with a commercially packaged yeast tho.

I need to do a bit more refining / experimenting with my yeast growing skills before I try pitching a yeast I grew, again.

Oh well.. Its all a learning experience, no? :)

Okay, lets try this again.. :)

Same recipe is in primary, only this time, I'm using Danstar Nottingham dry yeast (It came very highly recommended from a brewer friend of mine)
Its kicked off after about a 12 hour lag, and seems to be going to town.

I'm also actively managing the temperature. I have a temp. controller that my brewbelt is plugged into keeping it all at 20.2C +- 0.15C (Say just above 68F)

Hopefully this way I can get a quick, vigorous fermentation, and get the yeast to all go dormant and flock at once. I think I've been brewing too far on the cold end, as its been cold here, and my fermentations have not been attenuating as far as I'm used to, plus the yeast all seem to want to stay up in suspension. I hope a touch of heat will help that along.

Well, heres to another experiment! :)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

First time being a beer judge..

So, I attended my first homebrew judging / competition yesterday.

they let me tag on as a novice judge, to help in the Stouts category.

Our panel of 3 judged 11 different homebrews. From sweet stouts, to American stouts, to Russian Imperial stouts, and everything in between.

Holy hats I learned an incredible amount! Some of the beers were awesome, some just good, and others virtually undrinkable. I got a chance to taste firsthand some of the more common off flavors seen in homebrews. (Esters, Fusel alcohols, Diacetyl, too much Lactic acid, etc.. ) One stout tasted straight up like Banana, and green apple! (Esters produce these flavors).

It took us nearly 4 hours to judge the whole flight of 11 beers (12, if you count the first commercial, or "Calibration" beer we started with).  Sadly, I had to leave shortly before the judgments were handed out, but I will get the judging sheets in the mail for the IPA I had entered.

Overall, a great time. A wonderful meet n' greet experience, and a genuinely awesome learning experience. With the tools I started learning yesterday, I can now judge my own beers with a much more objective, and critical eye. This is how we make better beer!


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Still sore...

So, I had the chance to hang out, and brew with a local brewmaster.

Holy fuck, I learned a lot, and had a great time.. Brewing is still fun, even at commercial level!

This particular place was a local brewpub, with a ~10bbl system. Smallish by commercial standards, but probably on the high end of physical effort per bbl, compared to larger systems (Im only hoping here) I was working from roughly 9:30AM to 6:30 PM

We brewed an Irish dry stout, scheduled to be on tap March 16th. Just in time for St. Patrick's day! (Downtown Joes regulars, Be there.. I know I will!)

The recipe was pretty straightforward, in deference to the brewer, I'm not gonna post it, but it was interesting to me to help build a 370ish pound grain bill. roughly 7 lbs of hops went in as well.

It was a super dark color coming off the tun, smelled of coffee and chocolate.. Great smelling brew. Target ABV. was roughly 4.5 (IIRC)

I got the whole newbie experience.. Sweep out the grain room, load out the spent grain, then wash the tun, climb into, and scrub out the copper boil kettle... A lot of interesting learning. The brewmaster was awesome, very sharp, and in tune with dialing in chemistry so its just right. A professional..

Still, the fucker made me work till I was shaking, and I'm still sore today.. :) Climbing into, and scrubbing a copper boil kettle with a scour pad isn't nearly as glamorous as it sounds. Its hot, sweaty, cramped (and cramping, like of the leg muscle kind)

I feel proud of the beer I helped on. I think its going to sell well, and I cant wait to get a taste of it once it hits the taps.

If you have a small brewpub in your area, and can spare a (full) day, I think you could do a lot worse than offering to be a beerbitch for a day. I got free beer, food, and more learning in one day than in months of 'net researching, and trial and error.