Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Sooooo in preparation for St. Patrick's Day in March, David and I brewed a batch of Amber that only took around 30 minutes to brew. We started with a True Brew "Amber" kit and added some black patent and honey malt for a little more flavor. I had a lot going on after we brewed, so once it went into the secondary fermenter, it stayed there for a while. The beer was impressively clear since it had so long to clarify. It's sitting in my bedroom closet getting carbonate and delicious. Thanks to David for not helping me completely destroy my kitchen this time.
The stout I have currently in the primary fermenter was showing a lot of activity and CO2 production from the air lock. Unfortunately I didn't think that the brew was going to need any extra care during the primary fermentation, but that wasn't the case. I checked in on the beer during day two and found the air lock clogged and beer on the top of the outside of the fermenter. A little foam block and we're back in business!
The only problem I am having now is.....where to put all the beer!
Imperial "5400" Pale Ale
I started with a clone recipe for Dogfish Head's 90 minute pale ale, and came up with:
9.0 lbs Pilsner Dry Malt Extract
1.5 lbs British Amber Malt (20-35 lovibond)
1.75 lbs Pilsner Malt
2.0 oz Amarillo Pellet Hops
0.75 oz Simcoe Pellet Hops
0.50 oz Warrior Pellet Hops
1.0 oz Centennial Hops Plug
1.0 oz Chinook Hops Plug
1.0 oz Simcoe Hops Plug
I steeped the grains in 2 gallons of water at 150-160 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes. I added the malt extract and started adding hops that were separated into 90 medicine cups, one cup every minute for 90 minutes. The addition of drinking a shot of Sam Adams Octoberfest with ever medicine cup of beer was wonderful, until it digressed into drinking a few big sips out of the boot once a minute. After straining and cooling the wort into the fermenter, I took a gravity reading of 1.076.
The my local home brew store sells this amazingly magical product called foam block. I have no idea what it is, but it will stop a brewing pot of beer from boiling over, and it also stops fermenters from exploding. After about 24 hours I added the foam block and not a moment too soon. The foam had almost breached the air lock. After the gravity readings leveled out, I transfered the beer to the secondary fermenter and added the plug hops. I've never worked with plugs before, and they are quite potent.
Bottling blah blah blah and wow a few weeks later this is one amazing beer! I don't think it's quite as hoppy as the Dogfish original, but the bitterness is definitely present. The finish on my version is incredibly floral. The color has really cleared with age, and the addition of a wirlfloc tablet with about 15 minutes left in the boil.
I went with a Wyeast Whitbread yeast (1099), which imparts a "mild and slightly fruity fermentation profile," according to the Wyeast website. There was a lot of discussion online about using the Ringwood yeast. I don't know how much of a difference it would make, but the whitbread really works with the hop and malt profile I was looking for.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
So many beers so little time!
I picked up a make your own six pack from bloom, with a Same Adams Honey Porter, Redhook ESP, and Pilsner Urquell to start off with. The honey porter, while very tastey, was not nearly as good as the homebrewed Porter I recieved from Luke (co worker at mactec, also a home brewer) earlier this month. The honey emparted a sweet flavor that really wasnt in balance with the rest of the beer. I would also have enjoy a bit more hop as the barely sweetness was a touch overwhelming.
The Pilsner Urquell, on the other hand was amazing. It was apparently the first beer to be light in color! VERY creamy dense head, lots of carbonation, and a very aromatic flavor. The bitterness of teh Czech Saaz hops was wonderful. I think the word "luscious" comes to mind.
Redhook was, in a word, hoppy. I think maybe Kent Goldings hops? I can definatly understand why it's called and Extra Special Bitters. The bitterness of the hops was well balanced as was the caramel flavor and coloring.
Friday, January 16, 2009
After finally getting all the labels and crap off the bottles, I sanatized them in the dishwaster and sanatized the bottling bucket. I racked the beer from the secondary fermenter to the bottling bucket. Into the bottling bucket I added 3/4 of a cup of corn sugar. Corn sugar (dextrose) is a simple sugar easily broken down by the yeast. The addition of dextrose before bottling the beer will alow the remaining yeasts to reactiveate and produce some more of those lovely CO2 bubbles that make the beer taste like beer, and not flat beer that's been sitting out all night after a frat party.
All of this assumes of course that you can actually get the stupid caps on the stupid bottles once they are full of beer. Of all the things I leanred from David and Mike, getting bottle caps on bottles was not one. Clearly, it should have been. Enter my dad, Bottle Cap Bob.
Bob to the Rescue!
My parents came over to help me put some beer in some bottles, which I thought was very nice of them! They even brought wings over! I managed to get the beer in the bottles with little mess or issue. I could not for the life of me get the "red baron" bottle capper to crimp the stupid bottle caps. At this point I feel it necessary to explain the oxygen is not good for the beer in this stage on its way to delicious-ness. The longer it is exposed to oxygen, the more potential problems. If Pa hadn't been around to figure out the bottle capper, I'd be stuck with a lot of open bottles of flat beer. Thanks Dad!
I decided that I wanted to take my brewing to the next level. Half way through the first batch of beer.
I picked up a secondary fermenter at a wonderful place Mike and David discovered in Seven Corners, across the street from the Dogfish Head Alehouse, called "My Local Home Brewery Store." What a glorious place! They are incredibly knowledgeable about all things beer. I need to take a trip out there and see about getting a different bottle caping device. I'm getting a head of myself though.
After the bucket:
After about a day, stange an mysterious things were happening to the magical bucket-o-wort! It was becoming a bucket-o-beer! After we added the wort and some ice to cool the liquid to room temperature, we "pitched" the yeast. Which is really just a glorified way to say we put the little yeast buggers into some warm water and then turned them loose on the sweet and delicious mixture that would become my beer! We put the airlock and lid on the bucket and left it to its own devices in my hall closet. 24 hours later there were bubbles galore issuing through the air lock as the yeast converted the sugars into alcohol.
After a few days the bubbles started to subside and I "racked" (another fancy beer word, this time for moving beer) the beer into my newly purchased secondary fermenter. The primary fermenter bucket had an amazingly thing and strange tan sediment coating the bottom, which is apparently the dormant yeast. I feel like after eating and reproducing for three days straight I would probably go dormant and fall to the bottom of a bucket.
Allowing the beer to condition in the secondary fermenter allows the liquid to reach a new equilibrium with the sediment, allowing more of the tan stuff to settle at the bottom of the fermenter. This also gives me the ability to bottle the beer when ever I please.