Monday, June 15, 2009

Raffle Pale Ale Tasting

So I took some initial tastes of the Pale Ale I brewed and discovered it to be quite flat. Not CO2 wise just lacking in flavor. It wasn't quite a bitter as I expected and there was really no hop aroma. So even though I knew all along that I would need to, I rediscovered the fact that I had to dry hop. I grabbed 1 oz of Summit hops from the LHBS and started the dry hop of my 3 gallon keg on Friday. I tasted it on Saturday night and it was developing, and tried it again of Sunday and found it to be darn near perfect. I like the taste of Summit dry hopped. It is the hop used in Widmier's Drifter Pale Ale as a dry hop and I love that beer and this makes it quite similar. The only issues I have now are that it could have used more bittering. This is probably due to the use of some old, poorly stored hops. Additionally the color was a bit off. I split this between my fear from the last pale ale I brewed coming in too dark and the brewing software that calculated the SRM much higher than it came out as. I am pretty sure that the software was wrong as the recipes I based this on all called for more crystal than I used and I now see why.

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All Grain Kolsch Brew Day

So I decided to finally take the plunge and try my hand at all grain brewing. I had been slowly acquiring the parts and pieces for it. I moved to full boils last summer, and I built all the parts to convert a cooler into a mash tun over the winter. I broke down and bought a 5 gallon round cooler at Walmart for $20 and ran to the homebrew store on Friday to pick up the ingredients. For my first brew I decided to start with a Kolsch. I really enjoyed the one I brewed last spring and wanted to try it again. I made a yeast starter on Friday, got up at 6 on Sunday and started my brew day.

My recipe called for 11 pounds of grain and I was mashing with 3.5 gallons of water. My strike temp was 161, with my mash at 150 and once I doughed in and checked my temp I found that I was at around 160. I think that the problem came from my poor temperature taking procedure that really didn't get my thermometer deep enough into the water of the HLT. I dumped in some air temp water that I had sitting around and that brought the temp right down to 150. I mashed for an hour, recirculated the run off 3 times (although I didn't note a lot of clearing occurring in my run off, it was pretty clear to begin with) and move on to sparging. I sparged with another 3.25 of water and after it all ending up in my kettle, I found that I was a bit short of my expected boil amount (maybe 2 gallons). I quickly heated up some more sparge water, but decided to start my 90 minute boil with the 5.5 gallons I already had in my kettle. It took almost a full 30 minutes to finish with that extra sparge (next time I will make sure I have some extra water heated and waiting for sparging, along with another pot to catch my first runnings). I added my hops just before adding the 2nd sparge run off, brought it up to a boil again. At the end of my boil I had a bit less wort than I expected, some of that was due to the longer boil. I pitched the yeast at around 68, and will ferment at 64.

I am reserving the right to judge this brew until after I have a chance to taste it, but I can say I was not displeased at the process itself. I need a second pot (around 3 gallon) and it would be cool to have a larger boil kettle so I can end up with a touch more wort and less boilover risk, but these are the things I learn.

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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Tasting Round Up

I have been brewing so much, I haven't gotten around to commenting on the results enough.

The Northern Brewer Nut Brown tastes exactly like Newcastle. I have to imagine that is the point of that kit, although I didn't pick the kit up for this reason. I am realizing I really need more regulators as this beer is much better at a lower PSI than the American Wheat and Belgian Blond I have right now. I take care of this by grabbing a spoon and stirring some of the CO2 out of solution before drinking and it is noticeably better that way.

The American Wheat kit that I rebrewed came out way better than it did the first time I tried to brew it. The color is dead on, with a nice cloudy yellow. There is a noticeable clove phenolic in the taste. This is out of line for the profile, and I am going to blame the yeast. I have temperature control and I tried a starter so I have little else left to blame. It used the Safale wheat yeast and I am reading that it is not as clean as it should be for a true American Wheat. For my money it is a near perfect Widmer Hefeweizen clone. I will make note and use a clean ale yeast next time I brew this...that is unless everyone I give it too enjoys it.