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, 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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Monday, April 27, 2009

Kegerator is Finished...sort of

I am going ahead and posting a picture of the finished kegerator even though A it is not really finished and B I don't like the picture much and note that I have already cleaned it up quite a bit since the picture was taken. Since previous to the taps being installed my entire interaction came from the top down, I didn't notice how ugly the sides looked. The truth is you can't see it real well unless you are looking at it from a distance, but I have gone and cleaned the front and painted over some scratched and nicks. Additionally I am missing tap handles, but this tough as the ones I want run $35 a piece and I was not real happy about dropping another $175 on this project right now. I am also missing the pieces to connect the taps to the liquid, but I have had a tough time finding someone with all of the parts in stock and other than More Beer most places sell it in 3 separate parts. The single tap that is hanging out on the right is the one closest to the door and will be my root beer tap. The one on the farthest left will be cider and the 3 in the middle will be an assortment of beer. I put a bead of caulk in between the collar and the fridge to help seal some gaps and to help secure collar down. With the weight of the collar and the lid it is pretty stable, but the caulk should keep it from being jostled. I am pretty pleased with the results. I now have more storage room in the kegerator, although it is harder for me to reach the bombers I keep on the floor next to the kegs. I will make up for this by storing more in the floating basket on top. You can see that I also use this as a place to store my tailgate supplies. During football season this means all sorts of condiments, but right now it is just 2 bottles of mustard. I also have my yeast, hops and grain for my next brew, which should be a Nut Brown on Sunday.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Kegerator Update

I have finished building my collar and have removed the lid from the freezer. It looks good, I just need to drill holes for the taps and to run the hoses in plus attach the lid to the collar. Today the rest of my shanks and taps come in from Northern Brewer, so this weekend I should finish my install for at least one or two of the taps and may even be pouring 3 beers, 1 cider and a root beer from taps by Sunday. I have decided that once this is done I am chucking the rest of the 12 oz bottles I have sitting around in my garage and free up a little space. I am also extra motivated to clean out the garage to make it a little nicer to show off the finished kegerator.

I have kegged my Lefse Blonde, and took a few tastes although no full glasses. It has a nice Belgian character to it. It is not going to be a super easy drinking beer, but I already have the Mild on tap and am going to be brewing a nut brown next and planning an all grain cream ale after that. A complex beer on tap wouldn't hurt.

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Monday, March 30, 2009

Fermenting Update

After what was easily the longest lag I have ever experienced or expect to experience, my Lefse Blond was bubbling away on Friday with a very fresh krausen. It was still going strong on Sunday, and I would guess the lag was from last Sunday until Friday or a full 5 days. I plan on slowly ramping up the temp a degree a day for the next few days to ensure that the fermentation finishes off strong. I will probably not rack it next weekend, with the time that I will be spending on the other side of town visiting Lee and Kyle while they are in town. Family comes before beer, at least when it means that I won't be around to work on it.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Lefse Blond Brew Day

Haven't brewed in a long time, and I was running out in the fridge, so I sat down on Sunday to brew. The Lefse Blond is an incredibly easy brew process with no specialty grains just 2 kinds of sugar. Boiled up 5 gallons of water, dumped in 6 lbs of malt extract and a bag of candi sugar. Once I felt that was mixed, I dumped in 1.5 oz of Spalt hops and started my 60 minute boil. No boil overs and a pretty easy process, other than keeping Rachel from getting to close to the rig. Dumped in my flavor hops along with a Whirfloc tablet and then flame out and cooling time. This was the second time I used my sump pump freezing water cooling process. I brought the temp down to under 120 using tap water then switch over to the pump. I was able to get the wort down into the 60's before racking it to my carboy. This was the best cooling I had ever done and could have pitched the yeast immediately, but the smack pack was a bit old and hadn't swelled yet. I waited 10 hours, then just pitched the yeast anyway. It was lagging, but I expected this and will give it 72 hours before even thinking about it again.

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Monday, February 09, 2009

No Brewing & Killing a Keg

So I had originally planned to brew on Sunday, but I forgot to pick up water so no go. I did finish off my keg of Milk Stout on Sunday. It was a pretty good beer, with the only problem being some scorching that occurred during the boil which left some kind of break material in the finished beer that never dropped out. This leaves me with the mild and the red. My CO2 tank appears to be empty and I am going to blame this on the red being hardly drinkable at all. I am really considering dry hopping this beer to make it a bit more to my liking. I can't commit to brewing next weekend as it is Valentine's Day, but I am going to give it a shot on Sunday.

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Friday, January 09, 2009

Mild Tasting

I went ahead and grabbed a taster of the mild I kegged this past weekend. It wasn't quite fully carbed, but the style should be a bit light of CO2 versus things like a pale ale or IPA. The nose on this beer is incredible. It has notes of chocolate and great maltiness. The flavor is somewhere around a light nut brown. I taste a nutty flavor with a pleasant maltiness to it. This is going to be a very easy drinking beer. Sharon liked it, but is looking for more CO2, so I will up the PSI a bit. I followed this taste with another taste of the milk stout I have on tap, so I can compare the 2. The mild is definitely easier to drink. Without the stout roast flavor it goes down easy. I could see having the mild on tap year round, where I think it might be tough for me to drink the stout in the warm months. This has led me to think that I should concentrate on the milk stout keg for a while. I am also still thinking about experimenting with bottling from the keg, as I have a nut brown and beligan blonde kit waiting to be brewed and I don't want them to sit around too long. I will have to wait at least another 2 weeks (no earlier than January 25) to brew the blonde next as I am too busy the next couple of Sunday's, but I will need to have fridge space by February 15 or so to move the blonde.

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Monday, January 05, 2009

What Happened in December

Let's start with what I brewed. On Sunday December 21 I ran outside and brewed my NB Mild kit. It was easily the coldest brew day I have done. I thought that being able to sit by the burner to keep warm would not be bad, but I was mistaken. I ended up breaking out gloves to keep from freezing. I had a boil over, but this was due to being distracted and inside taking care of the kids for a bit. I racked this beer to a keg on January 3rd but due to a bad arm, I did not brew on the 4th like I had planned. I finished off the Wit keg this past weekend as well. I have the fermentor and keg sitting outside soaking in Oxyclean. I also have a plastic bucket out there that I need to rinse out and start another cider soon while the temps are still low and easy to control. I should try and get 2 cider batches done while the temps are down, but right now I need to finish off the keg I have on tap so I have some place to put all of this cider. The mild will be ready to tap in time for my 1/2 marathon completion party, where I can start having a beer or two more frequently during the week. I ran over a bottle of my red to the neighbor while I was off and he seemed to enjoy it as a easy drinking beer. I still find it a bit sweet and would love to dry hop it, but I am thinking about bottling an bunch of it up then hitting about half a keg with the hops. I was able to hit the Lost Abbey party at Papago on 12/18 after doing some Christmas shopping. I got Old Viscosity and Gift of the Magi on tap and it was a great party.

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Monday, November 17, 2008


Moved my Red and 5 gallons of cider into kegs yesterday. Expect to see an update on the taste of the beer next week. The cider will sit for a while. I still have close to 2.5 gallons on tap and 5 gallons sitting upstairs. I plan to start another 5 gallons of cider this weekend and hopefully brew a Belgian Blonde (Lefse Blonde from Northern Brewer).

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Sunday, November 02, 2008

Red Ale

So by request I am brewing a red ale. I ran to the homebrew shop on Saturday to pick up a kit. I went with a Brewer's Best kit for expedience as the shop was kind of busy. The kit came with a small can of extract, 2 lbs of light DME, 2 oz of Willamette hops and a sealed back of specialty grains, black patent and some crystal. I steeped the grains in a gallon and a half on the stove while I heated up 4 and a half gallons in the fryer. Once the steep was complete, I dumped the run off into the kettle. In no time I was boiling and added the malts. A few minutes later came the first 1 oz hop addition for 55 minutes. The last 5 minutes saw another hop addition along with a wirfloc tab. This was the first time I was using my new chilling system. I ran the IC with tap water until the temp was under 150 then I hooked the IC to a sump pump in a bucket of ice water. I ran the pump and returned the runnings back into the ice water. The result was 85 degree wort in about 15 minutes. Next time I'll use 4 gallons of ice and I should be able to get the wort down to below 80. I pitched 2 packs of hydrated Mutton's dry yeast. This worked real well on my sweet stout and I think that the higher cell count will help attenuate my beer better. I pitched at around 83 degrees. A bit warm but frankly cooler than I have ever done it and 8 hours earlier.

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Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween and Homebrew

I live at the back of a cul-de-sac and this make some trick or treaters pass us by. To combat this we set up at the end of our drive way with lots of lights and music, with the hopes of pulling kids in. Most of out neighbors do the same. Last year we realized that this would be a great opportunity to have a block party. Our good intentions failed to result in actually planing a party this year, but once the kids went to bed the was a impromptu party at the other end. I had been talking to one of the guys about how he got to smoke a cigar out front while I had to settle for some homebrew. He told the rest of the block that I brewed and then I was asked to provide a sample. My stock is pretty low since finishing the Kolsch and most folks don't like dark beers like my milk stout, so I handed out tastes of the wit. I have been pretty reluctant to share because I wasn't sure I was brewing good stuff. By the odor folks could tell that the beer should be "like Blue Moon" so I was off to a good start. Everyone loved it. They wanted to know what was i it and how I brewed it. I also handed out cider samples for some of the ladies. That was just as successful. So now I have been given a request to brew a red ale for the block. I will get it done on Sunday and 4 weeks later we'll have a taste.


Monday, August 18, 2008

Milk Stout

This past Sunday I decided to finish off the 3rd of three kits I bought from Northern Brewer back at the end of Spring. The last kit was for the APA and the extract was a bit old which I believe led to some off flavors and the beer coming out too dark. A good stout isn't as likely to be impacted by either of these problems as much so I still had some high hopes for this beer. The biggest problem I had was old yeast. This was the first smack pack I had that didn't blow up like a balloon. I decided to pitch some of my Muton's dry ale yeast, and opened up the smack pack to check the quality of the liquid yeas. It smelled fine if a little boozy, which leads me to believe it smacked a while back and created a small beer in the pack. I pitched that yeast anyway, because it didn't smell or look bad. I tried the overnight specialty grain mash and it looked, smelled and tasted great come morning. I choose to do something less than a full boil, holding back maybe a gallon and a half of the water to allow me to dump in some ice cold water to help in the cooling. At this time of year the immersion chiller with Valley tap water just can't get the temp down enough. This appeared to work fine. This may be one of the last extract brews I do for a while, as I am planning to move towards all-grain. I did get some really great sounding extract with partial mash recipes in the latest BYO magazine, that are made to be low hop requirements. They had a Rye recipe that I am thinking I need to try sometime soon.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Dead Soldiers

So this weekend I decided to do a little cleaning. I actually only emptied one of these this weekend. Last weekend friends cleaned out 2 of these that I had transferred a 1/4 barrel of Coors Light into and I had emptied out my original keg of cider about 2 months ago. The keg I did kill was the EPA that I had brewed this summer. It wasn't my best effort, so I wanted to plow through this beer and get on to better things. Next up is a milk stout next weekend. Not a standard summer fare, but one I have been looking forward to nonetheless.

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Extra Pale Ale Tasting

On Saturday I racked my Extra Pale Ale into a keg and took my first shot at force carbing a keg. I hooked it up to my 40 PSI Root Beer gas line and shook the keg every few minutes for about 20 minutes. I then left it hooked up for another 30 minutes while I took a shower. Flash forward to last night and I decided that I would give the beer a try. I hooked it up to gas and a picnic tap and drew a pint. The appearance was good. Not as pale as I was hoping for but pretty much dead on to Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. There is a bit of a haze to the beer, and this would be proper for the style. It has a nice hop aroma and a great hop flavor. I can also taste a bit of the Pilsner malts that I mini mashed for the recipe. It gives it a nice bit of a malt taste to go along with the hop flavor. I am quite pleased with this beer and I can't wait to share it.

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Monday, June 09, 2008

Extra Pale Ale Brew Day

I purchased a couple of kits from Northern Brewer about a month and a half ago and still hadn't gotten around to brewing them, so I remedied that this Sunday. I had a Milk Stout kit and an Extra Pale Ale kit and decided to go with the much more summery EPA. I have fond memories of the Summit EPA from my trips to Minneapolis and I had heard that this is a pretty close clone. I smacked my yeast on Saturday night and did a mini mash with the steeping grains. The mini mash was unnecessary, but I am practicing for mashing more of my own grains to cut down costs. I was also able to leave the mash on the burner over night and add this extra wort to my boil as evaporation occurred. This was a simple recipe with 2 hop additions and a carton of LME, and with some great preparation the night before I was able to wrap up with everything including clean up by just before 10 am. I altered the recipe a bit by cutting back on the bittering hop charge from 2 oz to 1.25 oz and used .75oz as a flavoring hops rather than 1 oz. This leaves me an extra 1 oz of hops that I can use to brew something else or that I can use to dry hop once I have tasted the beer. I am trying to mellow out my beers a bit and make them more approachable so that a wider group of people will drink them. Not that I mind having to drink 5 gallons of my beer all by myself, but I really enjoy sharing my beer as well. I ether need to alter what I brew or get different friends.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Memorial Day Homebrew Tastings

So Sunday was the big day where I would have a party and use my homebrews for the majority of the drinks. I had 4 things on tap: Kolsch, Wit, Cider and Root Beer.

This is my favorite of the beers and is probably the best beer I ever brewed. The color is dead on. The beer is very clean with a nice hop flavor and light bitterness. that being said, I was really the only one who drank much of it. To make up for his I drank a ton of them. The alcohol must have come in light, because I can drink a ton with basically no effects. I think the clean finish to this beer helps as well.

Wit- This beer has a perfect aroma and good taste but a touch watery on the mouthfeel. This left the beer a very easy refreshing drink and quickly became my wife's favorite. She polished off 2 of them in about 20 minutes which is remarkable for her. Most folks tried this one and several seemed to enjoy it.

Cider- No one had this over the weekend and I need to finish it off and move on to one of my new kegs. I also need to pick up 10 gallons of juice to start my next batch.

Root Beer-
I think this tastes exactly like root beer barrel candy with a touch of creaminess. Everyone enjoyed this and my Dad drank 2. Spilled a bit in the kegerator and will need to clean it out. I have heard mops recommended.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Wit Again

I decided to check the Wit to see if it was done or not. I really hoped to have it on tap for the big weekend. The refractometer read 6 Brix which is a whopping SG of 1.023. This is much higher than I was looking for. I couldn't believe how high it was, so I broke out the old hydrometer. From that I got a reading of 1.015. Much more like what I was expecting. Plus I failed to wait until the tiny CO2 bubbles came out of suspension, so the reading may have been high. So finally I settled on the only test the really should count, I tasted it. I noted the smell on Sunday and it was really intriguing. The taste was perfect. Not too sweet, definitely not 6 Brix, with a perfect spiced flavor and a very slight orange flavor. Even the wife thought it tasted good. So I moved it to a keg and then realized that while I have room on the distributor for another keg, I don't have room in the kegerator. So I dumped 3 bottles of the Raspberry Wheat abomination, drank down 2 glasses and then gave up on it and moved the keg out. If all goes well, I should have both a Kolsch and a Wit on tap for the weekend. Now I only need to empty and clean my 2.5 gallon keg so I can use the portable kegerator by the pool.

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Wit Beer and No Brew Day

I was going to brew today, but I ran into a first. My krausen had not fallen after 2 weeks in primary. A quick search returned the fact that Wit yeast can take a bit longer to ferment out. The suggestion is to either give it time or check the gravity to see if it is done. Having already scrapped my brewing for the weekend, I opted to give it more time. I will check the gravity later in the week to see if it is finished. I am looking for a final gravity of 1.008 - 1.012. Next up is a Milk Stout that I plan to brew way out of season, to give it some time. I am thinking about bottling a goos portion of this from the keg once it is carbonated. I will need to look into bottling techniques as I real don't want to buy a beergun.

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Sunday, May 04, 2008

Kolsch Tasting Notes

I finally floated my first keg. It was my Double IPA that I brewed last year that never bottle carbonated. It was a unbalanced little beer, but it was the second beer I ever brewed and I will miss her. I had been lagering my Kolsch for about 5 weeks so I decided to hook it up and take a taste. My first impression was that I finally brewed a light colored beer. Late extract addition works like a charm. The second thing I note is that I am still working on dialing in the pressure. Too much CO2. The fragrance was dead on. A clean nose, just like you want out of a Kolsch. The taste is perfect, but it still has some mellowing to do on the after-taste. That's OK as I really didn't expect to break into this keg until Memorial Day, giving me another 3 weeks of lagering for a total of 8 weeks. I expect that this will be a hit at the pool party. I also transfered 10 gallons of cider to kegs this weekend. A warm uncarbed taste test with my wife proved that the brown sugar with ale yeast was more successful. She didn't even ask for back sweetening. We both felt that the apfelwein with corn sugar and wine yeast tasted like a dry version of Hornsby's and that wasn't what we were looking for. Both came out clear as a bell and with more apple taste than my first attempt. So I will start another 5 gallons of cider with 2lbs of brown sugar and Muton's dry ale yeast as soon as I can get the juice from Costco. In the meantime I have around 2 gallons of cider left and I need to clean my keg out and move the American Wheat into it. I have high hopes for the Wit after tasting the Kolsch and I am really excited to try my hand at an Extra Pale Ale and Sweet Stout. Soon I need to zero on a few house beers that I will brew on a regular basis. Kolsch and Dry Stout are in the lead so far.

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Belgin Wit Brew Day

Started a new brewing process this week and felt the pains of doing it as well. After making 5 batches in my small pot I had become proficient, so I decided to throw it all out and complicate things. Last summer I bought a turkey fryer on deep sale from Sears. it turns out that those are a highly seasonal product with most of their sales coming a round T-Day. I got a 60-qt pot and burner for $20. The pot had a spout on it, but more on that later. This was all fine and good, but I needed a wort chiller if I was going to move to a full boil. I got a 25' copper chiller off eBay for $40, and I was on my way. I started off by brewing my first Wit, and my first self assembled recipe. I used 3lbs of Pilsner DME, and 3lbs of wheat DME along with 1 oz of Hallertau hops. The recipe also called for .75 oz of coriander and 1 oz of orange zest. I also got my first vile of White Labs liquid yeast (WLP400 Belgian Wit) for this recipe.

I got up Sunday morning and it was windy, very windy. The burner had a nice big wind shield so I wasn't too worried and went out to fire it up. It lit and I started heating up my 6 gallons of water. 45 minutes and 5 flameouts later I decided that it wasn't going to work in the backyard and moved to the garage. Once moved to the front yard, I also noticed that there was more of a control on the gas gage rather than just on/off and found that I was only about half power. Once I cranked it up the water was to a boil quick. I dumped in the DME and hops and 3 minutes later I had a boilover. The burner sure does burn hot. I cooled it down, boiled for 45 minutes threw in my wort chiller and gave it another 15. At flame out I tossed in the spices and turned on the chiller. The chiller worked great, although it didn't cool evenly and the top was much hotter than the bottom of the pot. I thought the balance got to a good point and tossed it into my carboy and found that the temp was 95. I tossed it into the fridge and waited to pitch. 5 hours later the wort had cooled and I pitched. I am thinking of giving it a 3 week primary and kegging it for a week and be drinking it for Memorial Day. This makes my next brew day May 18th and on deck is the Northern Brewer APA.

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Homebrewery Name

I have been thinking about it for a while and I think I need to create a name for my Homebrewery. With my Northern European last name I figured that something Germanic would sound good so I am proposing:

Haugsbräu Brewery

I am going to float this around for a bit and then get cracking on a brewery logo. If this all works out, I would consider a blog redesign that would incorporate the name and logo. I need feedback so please comment on this.


Monday, March 31, 2008

Weekend Brewing Notes

I moved my Kolsch into a keg for a cold secondary. This was my first attempt at fermenting in a real controlled chamber (converted dorm fridge) and my first lagering. No trip to the LHBS meant skipping my planned attempt at a Wit, but I have hopes for getting it done next weekend. Toped off an Apfelwein I am working on with a bit more juice as it looks like there was extra headroom in the carboy and I found that there is basically no krausen in this. That makes one week in for my traditional apfelwein, 2 weeks in for my really strong cider with 5 lbs brown sugar and a dry ale yeast, and the completion of a 2 week primary on my Kolsch. I am hoping to give the 2 week cider another 2 before racking to a keg and then starting another batch. I am hoping to get a bit ahead on my cider production so that I have a steady supply and an opportunity to age some properly, with back sweetening with a couple of cans of frozen concentrate in the keg until then. For now, I still have my great cider on keg and a pretty good beer to drink. I had a glass of each on Friday night, and continue to be happy with my progress so far and am looking forward to tasting some of my more recent work soon.

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Cider Tasting and Brewing

So I finally kegged up my cider that I brewed last Spring. The nose had a nice apple to it. The taste was dry with a very light apple flavor. There was a hint of brown sugar in the taste and the aftertaste had quite a bit of brown sugar to it. I thought this was from the addition of 2 cups of brown sugar that I used primarily to bloom the yeast rather than for taste, but...I also kegged up my test batch of Raspberry Apple cider. This was made with just under 1 gallon of unfiltered organic apple juice and about half a can of sweetened raspberry puree, no brown sugar or anything. The nose to that one has quite a bit of raspberry to it. Similar dry taste with just a hint of raspberry and...brown sugar. Not real sure what is causing this. I will do some research, but I am not complaining. They both tasted great and I started to make an altered version of apfelwein where I swapped out the corn sugar with brown sugar and used an ale yeast rather than a wine yeast. If it is as good as what I already have, I will be brewing this year round.

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Northern Brewer Kolsch

I got back into brewing this weekend. I ordered up a kolsch kit from Northern Brewer and since I solved my fermentation temperature and lagering problems I (built a keggerator and converted my dorm fridge into a fermentation chamber) I was ready to go again. This was a very easy kit to work with, and I used their instructions for a late extract addition that should help lighten up my brews (which have been real dark) and remove the homebrew tang. I have the wort fermenting at 60 degrees F in my fridge, and I plan to leave it there for 2 weeks then move it into a keg for secondary lager conditioning for 4 more weeks. Kolsch for May sounds good. I am thinking about following this up with a Wit recipe. Which could be ready for May as well. I am trying to get a supply going for a party on Memorial Day.

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

American Wheat Update #2

I actually tried one of these about 10 days ago and it wasn't carbed yet, so I don't count that as my real tasting. So on July 3rd we had a pool party and I chilled a sixer of the American Wheat for the party. I cracked one opened and poured it into a pint class and it was perfectly carbed. The color is a bit darker than it should be, but that is due to the small pot that I was using. I say was because I have purchased, but still haven't picked up, a turkey fryer that I will use for all future brewing. The taste was great. Still a couple of floater things from the carb tabs that I used. I need to get a kegerator and quit that crap. Tasted wonderful. I love the finish of a wheat beer.

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Monday, June 04, 2007

American Wheat Update #1

On Sunday I went ahead and bottled about half of the brew. I sanitized 24 bottles and filled the up, racking the remainder over 2 cans of Oregon raspberries in heavy syrup. I hadn't planned on using the ones in the syrup, but that's what Sharon bought and it should work fine. I also wanted to start a test batch of Apple Raspberry Cider. I had 4 gallons of Tree Top apple juice sitting in the garage for when I was ready to bottle my first batch. That may be soon, but in the meantime I though I would do this test batch. Plus I needed some AJ to baste the pork butt I was smoking so I broke into one of these and used the extra to fill up a glass gallon container I had. I dumped in most of the syrup from one of the cans and some of the fruit along with my yeast and placed it in my fermentation chiller.

More good news. I think I am done collecting bottles for a while. I now have 66 bottles full and sitting on a shelf, 60 empty and cleaned, plus my fridge has at least 24 bottles in it. Many of those in the fridge are from my first batch, but some are not, so I would have some label removing to do, but all in all I am close enough to my 150 bottle goal that I am not worrying about it. Plus, having a batch and a half of empties with only a half batch of raspberry wheat and the cider which will bottled who knows when, lets me feel that I am far enough ahead to stop worrying about emptying bottles. To celebrate I busted into my bomber of Duvel with dinner. A very good beer in a bottle that I have no need for. It was great, and the pulled pork sandwiches I had it with were wonderful.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Yankee Weissbier American Wheat

Grain Bill:
3/4 lb 6-row Malted Barley
3/4 lb Malted Wheat
1/4 lb Victory Malt
1/4 lb Munich Malt
1/4 lb Vienna Malt

Malt Extracts:
2 lb Extra Light DME
4 lb Wheat DME

1 oz Tettnang (45 minutes)
1 oz Czech Saaz (Knockout)

Grain steep at 160 F for 20 minutes in 2 gallons filtered water (with Brew Saltz) 2 cups of hot water for grain rinse. 60 minute boil. Ferment for 7 days at 68 F. Striaght to bottles without secondary. I currently plan to rack half of this over 1.5 lbs of Raspberry puree for an additional 2 weeks. I will use priming sugar at a touch more than 1/4 per half batch.

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American Wheat

My big plans to brew for the family this past Sunday was a bust. There was no time to entertain and brew, even though I had thoughts that the brewing would be the entertainment. Instead I jumped into the pool for 10 minutes before jumping back out to cook. I picked up the Sam Adams Summer mix pack from Costco for the party. I had the mix pack this past late winter and it was quite good, so I was willing to try the summer mix. This has their Hefe, Cherry Wheat, Pale and Summer Ale along with their Lager and Light. I agree with reviews I have read that their Hefe is actually an American Wheat, but other than the misnaming, it is a great drink. Their Pale was quite interesting, and even more so after taking a whiff of hops on my Memorial Brew Day.

So onto the brew. Things went pretty good this time with just a few difficulties. The mini-mash was successful, although I did spill some grains into the pot while trying to fill the muslin bag. I used the small size bag and even though this was not a huge grain bill, it barely fit. The next issue I had was with adding the DME. It clumped up and formed a candy like substance. I was quite worried that it wouldn't incorporate, but after stirring for 10-15 minutes it smoothed out. I added the hops and waited my 45 minutes. Kind of a boring recipe compared to the IIPA. Since this time I had a cooler full of ice water, I used this to cool off my wort before tossing it in the primary with water. I also used a 4 gallon bottle of water from Wal-Mart, rather than exhausting my RO supply. I hadn't noticed any signs of fermentation as of last night some 12 hours after pitching, but I understand that these plastic buckets are something less than perfectly sealed, so this isn't unusual. No pictures or even the video that I had planned as I was watching Mary through a par of this brew and I am a father first, brewer second. I'll post the recipe separately as Brewers Connection didn't have this one on their website.

Next up, a Kolsch for Sharon.

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Monday, May 21, 2007

Next Brew

I have been really enjoying the Stout and it just seems to keep getting better. I had one last night that I had cold conditioned for a few weeks and it was great. By the end the brew had warmed a bit and you could really taste the dark stout flavors. My biggest concern is that I am not brewing real crowd pleasers. So this Sunday, I am going for a hefeweizen. Actually I am going to make an American Wheat, with the major difference being the yeast used. This should make a real easy drink, plus I am going to split the batch and make half of it a raspberry wheat by racking it over a can of Oregon raspberry puree. This means I'll only have around 20 beers for 7/4, but this should be plenty. I am going to follow it up immediately with a Kölsch. I bought a sixer of Shiner's Kölsch for Sharon this weekend and she enjoyed it quite a bit, so I think it will be a popular one.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Dry Irish Stout Update #4: Tasting

The moment of truth finally came. I chilled a a bottle of my brew overnight and sat down to try it with dinner. My primary fear was that carbonation might not have taken. I cracked the bottle and heard the expected pop and started to get my hopes up. I grabbed a pint glass and poured it in and immediately ended up with a 3 inch head. I had successfully bottle conditioned my beer, in fact this was a bit excessive. I poured as second on a few day later and, remembering to pour gently, it was fine. The clarity was perfect. There was absolutely no noticeable cloudiness, although it is a rather dark beer, so this is a bit hard to see. As far a color, I feel that it could afford to be even darker, but the head pours a light brown color and it is clearly a darker color than Ruby Guinness. The taste was a touch on the bitter side. I blame this on my not filtering.straining my wort before dumping it into the fermenter. For my next brew, I will actually use the strainer that I bought just for this purpose. Other than that it tasted like a hoppy stout. I liked the greater hop flavor that it had over Guinness. In the end, it was a drinkable beer with a lot of flavor and convinced me to keep on brewing. As I get feedback from folks I'll post them as comments to this post.

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Cider Update #3

Quick note on the cider. I pulled a taste out using my thief, and tried it out. Almost all of the tartness is gone now. The flavor is that of champagne with an apple finish. I chilled my taste and tried it again and it was nearly perfect. I still think I am going to want to sweeten it up with some lactose, and the apple flavor will be given a tweak with the use of AJ concentrate to carb it. Sharon liked it and was quite pleased with the progress. I am going to give it another 4 weeks. As of today it has been 8 weeks. If it is all done by the end of this period, with the 3 week carbing, it will mean a 15 week total process. At this rate I can produce 15 gallons a year. I have a feeling keeping up with bottles for it may become an issue, with competing for them with my beers.

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Imperial IPA

First, it's definition time. What is an Imperial IPA? Also known as a Double IPA or 90minute IPA, it is simply an IPA with 2 as much hops and 50% more malt that a standard IPA. It has a much higher ABV and a different finish than an IPA. Often these can be described as finishing sweet, in large part due to the effects of the long boil. I wanted to go with this brew as it is a nice summer beer, a real great thing to drink around the grill, with the flavors opening up as the beer warms, something that will defiantly happen when grilling in the Phoenix summer.

Changes I made for this brew: I made a starter. Big beers like this demand a starter, to ensure that the high sugar content doesn't shock the yeast. Plus you need the yeast to fully attenuate to get the nice high ABV that this comes with. I used a Wyeast smack pack that it technically a small starter in its own right and added it to a quart of water and cup of LME the night before. As you can see from the picture on the right, it was quite active before I pitched it and I was nearly guaranteed a quick start. The other change I made was to move my brewing outside to the burner on the side of my grill. I saw this done on a few YouTube videos and is a cheap alternative to buying a dedicated burner for this. This keeps me from adding the odors of brewing to the house (not a problem for me, but not a very popular move with the wife). This also keeps me from heating up the house, which is very important for summer brewing. The unwanted impact from this was somewhat self correcting. The gas burner is a lot more touchy than my electric on and I ruined my no boil over record, but at least I didn't gunk up the kitchen, only my patio and grill.

I brewed it up and remembered to use cold water to mix with my wort concentrate, helping to cool the mix much quicker. I still think that for my next brew, I'll need to invest in a wort chiller. I was able to pitch 2 hours after brewing and by the time I went to bed, there was a very active fermentation going on. The fan in my fermentation chiller died, so I picked up a new on from WalMart this morning and should have it cooled down by tomorrow. 72 degrees when I left the house this morning.

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Dry Irish Stout Update #3: Bottling

Sunday morning was bottling time. I sanitized my bottles by filling up my plastic fermenter and my bottling bucket with 5 gallons of water each and my no rise sanitizer. I found that I could get 18 bottles in each bucket so it was going to take a third bucket's worth of sanitizing. I set them aside and did some yard work. 2 hours later I was ready to bottle. I dumped my priming sugar into a pot along with a cup of water, and heated it just enough to dissolve the sugar. I took the bottles out of the 2 buckets an topped each bottle with a piece of aluminum foil. I set these aside and emptied out the bottling bucket in the street and put the rest of my bottles in my now empty fermenter. I racked the beer out of my glass fermenter into my bottling bucket and noted first that I now had less than 5 gallons, it was now closer to 4 gallons. There was still a bunch of crap sitting at the bottom of the bucket, which made me glad for the racking to secondary. I hooked my hose into the spigot on my bottling bucket with my bottling cane on the end. About this time Mary came out into the garage, so I taught her to grab me a bottle, remove the foil and hand m the bottle. This worked pretty well, and I had it bottled in no time. It only produced around 44 bottles, so it was a bit short of my expectations, but this means that I have a good jump on bottles for my next batch, assuming I loose much of what I just used.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Dry Irish Stout Update #2

It has been 5 days, so I checked the gravity and it read 1.018, which is right in range for this batch. I went ahead and racked it to my new glass 5 gallon carboy secondary. I needed another as my cider is still in the first. The hops appear to have floated to the top and were set aside as part of the krausen, so this didn't appear to be a problem. I should be bottling next Sunday. Too late for Easter consumption, but I should be able to send a bomber back to Oregon with Lee and Kyle.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Dry Irish Stout Notes

Here is the ingredients list for my brew:

1 3.3 lb can of Dark Unhopped Munton's Malt Syrup
2 lbs of Dark Dried Malt Extract
6 oz of Crystal Grain
4 oz Roast Barley Grain
2 oz of Cascade Hop Pellets
Brewers Salts
Irish Moss
1 Package Munton's Ale Yeast

I brought 1.5 gallons of water to 165 degrees, adding my salts just before it peaked, and started my 30 minute steep. I let the temp continue to rise to 170 and tried to maintain that temp. The temp spiked up to around 180 before I was able to stabilize it. I pulled the grains and let them drain for just a bit. Not a whole lot came out of the bag. Dumped in the malt syrup and then the dry DME (Dark Malt Extract) stirring and moving it on and off the heat to keep it from boiling over. I tossed in all 2 oz of hops and started my 40 minute boil (The instructions suggest 20-30 minutes but I saw recipies that go as high as 60), dumping in the Irish Moss in the last 10 minutes. I dumped this hot wort over 3 gallons of RO filtered water and then topped it off to the 5 gallon mark. The temp of this mess was just a bit over 100 degrees. I gave it some time to cool, grew impatient after 15 minuted and placed the whole bucket in an ice bath. Once the temp dropped below 100, I checked the OG and found it to be 1.040 and pitched the yeast (I bloomed the yeast in warm water earlier, I can't just toss dry yeast on anything). This is just below the noted starting gravity that the kit notes. Last night I checked and there was plenty of krausen on top. The odor was perfect, with a slight alcohol note confirming the fermentation. I plan to rack it to secondary this Friday after checking the gravity. The expectation is for a gravity of around 1.010. I took the temp of the brew last night, and found it to be almost exactly 70 so I think I can say that my cooling technique is working.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Dry Irish Stout Update #1

A quick update on the brew status. I called home yesterday afternoon at 3 and my fridge/cardboard box solution for regulating my primary's temp appears to be working at least somewhat. The temp was 72, up from 66 that morning. The actual high outside was 88 yesterday. This seems like it will work well enough for now, but I am not sure if this will work when the temps peak up over 100 this summer. This morning the temp had dropped to 64. This week looks like it will be OK with the huge drop of over 30 degrees between last Saturday and this Friday.

I think I am going to try to brew a Saison next. The fermentation temp on a Saison can be up around 85 to 90, so I am thinking that my set up might work fine for that style this summer. Plus I really like the style, with its wine-like complexity. If you have had the New Belgium take on this style, I am sorry. What you want is a quality Sasion like Dupont out of Belgium. The only problem I have is that I feel that this style has to be bottled Champagne style with a cork, but I can't see myself buying a corker.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Dry Irish Stout

I started my first beer on Sunday. I ran up to Brewers Connection and settled on a kit for an "Irish Stout." I'll follow up with my notes tomorrow, so today I will just talk about the experience.

I grabbed a 12 quart pot enameled pot from Wal-Mart for about $10. This was a much better deal than the LHBS (Local Home Brew Store) was offering. This will let me do a 2 gallon boil. The process wasn't too difficult. It was a bit of a problem steeping the grains at 170 degrees, at least it was difficult keeping the temp. The boil went well and I had no boil overs, I credit my cooking experience for this.

The first major difficulty came when I needed to cool the wort to 90 degrees. I think I am going to need to invest a wort chiller. It took way too long. Then came the move to the garage for fermenting. I took a mini fridge and made a cooling box for keeping the temps down. It started at around 90 degrees and I figured it would take a while for the temp to get down. After some work I was able to get it down to 83 degrees by the time I went to bed. When I got up it was 66 degrees and I will check it when I get home to see how well it is working.

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Cider Update #2

It has been 3 weeks since I started my cider and I wanted to post a quick update. I pulled out a taste a week ago and this last weekend. Last week it was very tart. This past weekend I took a taste and most of the tartness is gone. I have a bottle carbing away in the closet, so I was thinking of popping that open and testing some sweetening options. I still think I am wanting to wait until this summer before bottling, but I am a bit concerned about the heat. More about that in an upcoming post.

But first, a picture of my newly decorated brewing corner.

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Bottles for the Brew

So before I know it, I am going to have 5 gallons of beer and 5 gallons of cider that I need to bottle it all. That means that I am going to need around 96 bottles for this stuff. I have been keeping my empties for a bit, but it isn't easy. I need bottles without twist top, which I have learned is becoming somewhat rare even with the craft brewers. I am focusing on Sam Adams bottles for the bulk of my supply. In part this is because I love their spring seasonal: a White Ale. Plus my wife will drink their White Ale and that means more empties. I was also able to find a Sam Adams 24 mix pack at Costco. This mix pack included their Scotch Ale and Honey Porter (2 upcoming reviews) and that was just what I was looking for. I found the best way to remove the labels while also cleaning them. I took an empty kitty litter bucket and rinsed it out. I filled it full of water and added 2 scoops of OxiClean Free and let my bottles soak for 24 hours. I pulled the bottles out, rinsed them off and was done with it. I also got a hold of some 22 oz swing top bottles from Sunflower market for 2 bucks each. My current empty and cleaned count is 32, so I have a bit of a way to go.

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Monday, March 05, 2007

Cider Continues

7 days after pitching yeast, there was no more visible fermentation. I checked the gravity and it came in at 1.01. This was low enough for me to move it to second fermentation.

I pulled out a taste and it was dry and tart, but had apple flavor and a slight sparkle to it. Overall it would be drinkable, but not pleasantly so. I grabbed a 22oz swing top bottle, dropped a priming tablet in and it is now sitting in my closet. I took the rest and racked it to my 5 gallon glass carboy. I am going to keep it in the secondary for 2 more weeks, take a taste and think about adding 2 pounds of lactose to it. In the meantime I am thinking of doing an Irish Dry Stout next. The BeerAdvocate magazine for March had a recipe for this and suggested it as a first attempt. The dark roasts of the malt help cover up any problems that might occur. The only thing I am planning to change on their instructions is that I will rack to secondary for a week. They suggest that you bottle after a week and just get to the beer, but I have enough patience, plus there is no way to get this done in time for St. Patty's Day so there is no rush. Plus I really need around 100 bottles for these 2 batches and I am just short of 40 right now.

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Home Brewing Starts

I finally took the dive and started home brewing. I decided to start with a cider. This is due to the fact that cider is easier to brew than beer (no boiling, very few ingredients) and I feel that I should brew something unique.

A quick work about unique. As I understand it, this is a hotly debated topic in the home brew world. There are many people out there who are working to create perfect clones of existing beers, and then there are people like me who say that if I wanted a Dog Fish Head 90 minute IPA, I would buy one.

So I am brewing a cider. This will not taste like Woodchuck, Hornsby, or pretty much anything else that you can buy at your local grocery store. These are really more like alcopops rather than a true cider. They are way to sweet and rather low on the alcohol. You can't brew anything like this, you have to fake it with malt liquor. What I am brewing will be very dry and have a slightly higher alcohol content. Here is the recipe/note from my efforts:

2 Gallons Target Apple Juice (Their Market Pantry brand)
2 Gallons Santa Cruz Organic Apple Juice
1 Gallon Organic Juice from Sunflower

The following were used to bloom the yeast by mixing with some of the apple juice blend and heating it to around 90 degrees.
2 Tablespoons Honey
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar

1 Package Safale US56 Dry Ale Yeast

OG 1.050 (Taken 15 hours after pitching yeast, but before active fermentation)

Active fermentation was noticeable after 20 hours. Monitored the temps in the 60-70 degree range.

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