Thursday, April 01, 2010

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Thursday, March 04, 2010

All Grain Breweing

So I have now fully transitioned to all grain brewing after finishing my 4th all grain batch. It has really become quite a bit of fun and I would definitely suggest to anyone who has made the move to full boil to also make the move to all grain. Upcoming enhancements include a build and automation of a heat stick so that I can heat my strike water while I sleep and wake up to start brewing immediately. I would also like to look at moving to a larger kettle through the conversion of a keg and hooking up a march pump to move my wort out of the boil kettle with the possibility of an eventual single tier build.

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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.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

APA Brew Day

So this was a week of many brewing firsts for me. It started with my joining the Arizona Society of Homebrewers, a local homebrew club. We did a tour of a local distributor's warehouse and sampled some beers. I also won part of their monthly raffle and chose some hops as my prize: 1 oz whole leaf Warrior and 1 oz whole leaf Pallisades. I decided that I should brew something up using these hops for next month's meeting, and picked an APA. It was the last of the styles that I wanted to rebrew from my early failures. In order to brew, I needed to move my American Wheat out of the fermentor and into a keg. I also was interested in finishing my stir plate to make a starter for this beer. I worked through this in before the weekend and got around to brewing on Memorial Day. I was sick and tired of the continual threat of boil overs, so I grabbed a fan and used it to majorly reduce the risk. Batch turned out OK, but I can say I am not a huge fan of using whole hops in the boil as it made racking a bit difficult.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009


I have finally reached a point where I am ready to go back and rebrew some stuff. There are still some things that I want to try, but I want to start eliminating things that I didn't enjoy and think about having something like a regular rotation. Before I am willing to commit, there are 3 beers that I brewed in the past that I would consider failures, and feel that I should try and get them right before I decide that I don't want them in the rotation. The 3 are my DIPA, American Wheat and an APA (actually it was an EPA, but that is almost splitting hairs). I am going to start with the American Wheat. I consider this the closest thing to a drain pour I have ever brewed and I am sure that I could be a real crowd pleaser. So I am planning on brewing on Sunday, even though my fermentor is still full as of today. I will rack my brown to a keg tonight, and I will clean out my other carboy on Saturday so that I will be ready to go on Sunday. I am also thinking about bottling up the remainder of my mild. I still don't have my 5th tap, so I have little problems moving ahead with staying one keg down. I am also thinking about bottling off the rest of this keg of cider and move on to my Halloween batch. Plus I am ready to start another cider and will need the keg space for aging.

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Monday, May 04, 2009

Nut Brown Brew Day

I wanted to brew yesterday and Sharon wanted to take Mary to try out a church, so I got up at 6 am to brew. I actually started the night before with setup and steeping my specialty grains, along with filling the kettle. This way I rolled out of bed, started the burner and I was moving. Got the water to a boil before 6:45 and was cooling the batch by 7:40. Cooling was a bit more problematic. The ground water temp has risen and I only had a single gallon jug of ice form my recirculating ice water system. In the end I got the wort down to around 75 and then tossed it in the fridge. I was done with cleanup and everything by 9. As of 7 PM there was still no activity in the fermenter.

I had hoped to be writing about a finished kegerator, but I have 2 outstanding issues. One of the taps I got was bad and I will be sending it to Northern Brewer for a new one. The second issue was that I was ordering tailpiece assemblies from, but they haven't even shipped it after placing the order a week ago. I will go back to checking the local homebrew shops to see if I can't pick the parts up and cancel my order, with a hope that I will have a kegerator missing one tap by the weekend.

Tasted the Lefse Blonde last night and it has really come around with some cold conditioning. I really enjoyed it and it will be quite tasty for this late spring, early summer.

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