Thursday, December 8, 2011

ESB Kegging, Smoked Brown drinking, English Barleywine Brewing and Hops.... Even more hops

On Saturday I kegged my ESB.  Original gravity was 1.056 and final gravity was 1.012 giving me a 5.8% ABV beer and 71% efficiency.  I also brewed by English Barleywine.  The recipe is:
  • 11 lbs. - Marris Otter
  • 1 lb. - Munich Malt
  • 1 lb. - Crystal 60L
  • 8 oz. - White Wheat Malt
  • 2 oz. - Special B
  • 4 lbs. - Light Dried Malt Extract
  • 2.5 oz. - Target @ 60min.
  • 1 oz. - UK First Gold @ 10min.
  • 1 oz. - Styrian Goldings @ 2min.
After brewing this, I racked on top of the ESB's yeast cake.  BeerSmith estimated OG at 1.096 and I measured it at 1.094 so I'm pretty happy with it.  The only problem I had was I couldn't seem to hit my mash temperature.  I wanted it to be 151F, but it started at 156.  I added cold water and it dropped to 143.  I boiled some water and it jumped to 153 and I just game up at that point and called it close enough.  Despite all the problem I was really closed to the expected OG so I'm not overly worried about it.  Visible fermentation started in about 2 hours and I had trouble keeping the temperature at 62F due to how vigorous it was.  As of the post it is still slowly bubbling.  I'll give it at least 2 more weeks in the primary.  I haven't decided if I'm going to secondary in a fermenter or in a keg.

I finished off the Apfelwine that I took to work and tapped the Smoked Brown Ale.  Since this was the first recipe I created from scratch, I was worried how it would turn out.

The smoke really doesn't come through that strong.  You notice a hint of it at the back end of the swallow but that is it.  If I were to brew this again I would double up on the smoked malt.  One of the guys who tasted it said he wouldn't have known it was a smoked beer unless I told him first.  I'll leave it up to him to provide his opinion on it (hint, hint John...)

I also ordered another 3 lbs of hops.  The first round of hops I purchased was to cover the English and American hops.  This second (and last) order was to get the German/Bohemian hops.  I bought a pound each of Czech Saaz, German Perle and German Tradition from Hops Direct

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Smoked Brown Kegging, Apfelwein drinking, ESB Brewing and Hops.... Lots of hops

On Thursday I kegged my Smoked Brown Ale.  Original gravity was 1.058 and final gravity was 1.020 giving me a 5.0% ABV beer and 71% efficiency.  I will be happy with 75% efficiency and since I've been steadily increasing I won't complain.  I took a taste from the wine thief (used to get enough beer to take a gravity reading) and it tasted pretty good but I didn't get any smoke flavor.  Once it is carbonated and on tap we will see if any smoke flavor comes through.

On Friday I took the Apfelwein to work for the testing department's Thanksgiving pitch-in using my new portable kegging system.  The system worked flawlessly and the Apfelwein seemed to go over very well as I only came home with about 1/2 a gallon of the 4+ gallons I took.  There seemed to be an even split between people who liked it dry and those who back-sweetened it with Apple cider/juice.  I liked it both ways but had a slight preference for back-sweetening.  With the right mix, it tasted similar to Woodchuck Amber Cider.

On Saturday I brewed my Extra Special Bitter (ESB).  This is the second recipe I've made from scratch so I'm excited to see how it turns out. 

The recipe for the ESB is:
  • 9lbs - Marris Otter malt
  • 8oz - Crystal 60L
  • 8oz - White wheat malt
  • 4oz - Aromatic malt
  • 2oz - Pale chocolate malt
  • 1.5oz - Target hops @60 min
  • 1oz - Styrian Golding hops @2min
  • British Ale II yeast
Total cost for 5 gallons with bulk purchasing the ingredients = $22.43.

I also built up my RO water to something similar to the Burton On Trent water profile.  Up until now, I've kept my water additions fairly light so we will see how this works out for me.  Once fermentation is complete and a keg opens up, I'm going to brew an English barleywine and pitch right on the yeast cake from this ESB.  That should give me enough yeast to chew on a 10% barleywine.

My first bulk hops purchase also came in early last week from Hops Direct.  I ended up purchasing 8lbs of hops and they always send a little more than a pound.
  • Centennial - received 21.5oz
  • Citra - received 18oz
  • Cascade - received 18.5 oz
  • Northern Brewer - received 18.5oz
  • Gr. Target - received 19oz
  • Styrian Golding - received 18oz
  • UK First Gold - received 18.5oz
  • Palisade - received 18.5oz

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Scottish Ale on Tap, Smoked Brown Fermenting

Last weekend and this week have been busy at the home brewery.  With the help of some friends, I finished off the Bohemian Pilsner.  This opened up a tap for my Scottish 60/-.

Not the best picture, but if you want a better look your just going to have to stop by and see it.  This beer, in my opinion, fits the style quite well. 

Aroma : Nice light malty smell with a hint of earthiness to it.
Appearance: Dark Amber with a small off-white head.
Flavor: Pronounced malty flavor with a hint of smokey/peaty trailing right behind it.
Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

I've brewed this once before as an extract kit from MidWest Supplies and both the extract and all-grain are excellent. 

I also brewed my Smoked American Brown Ale this weekend.  I changed up the recipe a little from when I last posted about it.
  • 3.5lbs - German Pilsner Malt
  • 3.5lbs- Marris Otter
  • 2lbs - Home smoked malt (Hickory)
  • 8oz - Home toasted malt (60min @ 350F)
  • 8oz - Crystal 60L
  • 8oz - Pale Chocholate
  • 8oz - Special B
  • 0.5oz - Cascade (First Wort Hopped @90 minutes)
  • 0.5oz - Centennial Hops (60 minutes)
  • 0.5oz - Centennial Hops (15 minutes)
  • 0.5oz - Cascade (First Wort Hopped @2 minutes)
  • Wyeast 1332 - Northwest Ale
This was a single infusion mash at 154F for 60 minutes with a 90 minute boil.  BeerSmith is estimating this to be:

  • OG - 1.058
  • Bitterness - 38 IBUs
  • Color - 24 SRM
  • ABV - 5.1%
This is also the first beer in which I reused washed yeast.  The yeast have been in the refrigerator for 3 months, so I made a 1.5L starter.  The yeast were so active they actually made it out of my 2L Erlenmeyer flask.  It's a good think I used aluminum foil to cover the flask instead of an airlock or I would have been in trouble.

I also kegged the Apfelwein I made on September 10th.  That gave it 6 weeks in the fermenter.  My hope is that it will be ready in two weeks for our annual Thanksgiving party at work.  I'm not holding my breath on this since its ABV is around 9% and it usually takes a couple more months to age.  If it isn't ready, I can always take the APA I brewed in the middle of July.

Friday, October 14, 2011

APA tasting and Scottish Ale Kegging

With the help of some others (thanks Brian and Chris), I finally finished off the Saison.  After cleaning the keg and lines, I tapped my APA.
This isn't the best picture I could do but I was in a hurry.  This is Great Fermentation's BrewBQ Pale Ale.  This beer has amazing hop flavor and aroma without the strong bitterness of an IPA.  I absolutely love this beer and plan on making a few modifications and make it my house pale.  If you notice from the picture, this beer is as darker or darker than some of the other beers I've brewed.  The term Pale Ale appeared in the early 1700's and denoted a beer that was pale compared to other beers of the day such as porters and stouts. 

I've made this as an extract kit and all-grain, both taste nearly identical and are well worth trying.  This beer has small hop additions at 60, 45, 30, 15, 10, 5 minutes as well as an ounce dry hopped.  It uses Cascade, Columbus and Amarillo hops.  I think I'll keep the Cascade and Columbus and replace the Amarillo with Citra and see what I get.  Experimenting is fun!

I also kegged my Scottish Ale.

This is a picture of it in the secondary fermenter right before kegging.  After fermentation, it is racked into this fermenter and I added oak chips soaked in Scotch (thanks for the scotch Chris).  I was originally going to sanitize the oak chips by boiling them in a little water but was inspired to soak them in Scotch/Bourbon after having a Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Pale Ale.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Weekend Projects and Portable Kegging

I got all the equipment I need to make a keg portable this last weekend.

It includes a KEGlove insulated sleeve and ice blanket, a CO2 regulator, a 20oz CO paintball tank with adapter and the hoses and fittings to attach to a keg.  This should keep a keg cool for up to 24 hours outside of the kegerator.

I also smoked two pounds of pilsner malt with hickory chips and toasted 1/2 pound of malt as well.
Here is a picture of regular pilsner malt and then the toasted below it.  I toasted it at 350ºF for 1 hour.  The smoked malt was split into two 1 pound amounts and wrapped in burlap and put in the smoker for a couple of hours.  It darkened a little but not as much as the toasted malt.

The third project for this weekend was my first attempt at a home made tap handle.  Tap handles cost $30+ for even the most basic handle.  The one I made cost just over $5.
I left room at the top to place a label with either the name of the beer or a more generic beer style label.  I haven't decided which I'm going to do.  This was pretty easy to make.
  • 1 - Pine block - $1.48
  • 1 - Pine spindle - $1.98
  • 1 - 1/4" dowel pin - $0.10
  • 1 - Tap Handle Ferrule - (Lowe's Part# 137397) - $1.51
  • Paint of your choice - ???
It's been about a month since I last posted a message and I still haven't finished off any of my kegs.  It helps that I tend to only drink 1 beer a night.  The Saison should be empty fairly soon which will open up a tap for my American style Pale Ale.  Once it is tapped, I will post a picture and the recipe.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

EdWort's Apfelwein

Impromptu brew day today.  After reading up on EdWort's Apfelwein, I had to make some.  This is so much more simple to make then beer.

5 Gallons of 100% Apple juice, 2 lbs Corn Sugar (NOT TABLE SUGAR!!!), 1 package of Wine yeast.  No boiling, no mashing, nothing.  Let it sit in the fermenter for 4-6 weeks, keg and let it sit for another 4-6 weeks.  Drink, but do so carefully since it should be around 9% ABV.  I'll post about it again once its ready so my volunteer taste testers will be ready to pounce.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Storing my grains and my next recipe.

Here is my bulk grain purchase.
The larger containers each hold about 25lbs of grain and contain all the base malts.  The smaller containers can hold about 12.5lbs and hold the specialty grains.

I think I've worked out my next recipe.  This will be the first recipe I've made from scratch.  It will be a smoked American brown ale. 
  • 7lbs - Domestic 2-row
  • 2lbs - Home smoked malt (Hickory)
  • 8oz - Home toasted malt
  • 8oz - Crystal 60L
  • 8oz - Pale Chocholate
  • 8oz - Special B
  • 1oz - Centennial Hops (60 minutes)
  • 0.5oz - Cascade (First Wort Hopped)
  • Wyeast 1332 - Northwest Ale
BeerSmith is estimating this to be:
  • OG - 1.056
  • Bitterness - 33 IBUs
  • Color - 21 SRM
  • ABV - 5.1%
I might switch out the 2-row with a mix of Maris Otter and Pilsner malt.  When buying bulk, European grains come in 55lb bags so I have about 5lbs that don't fit in the storage containers.  If I do switch this out, I'll also switch to a 90 minute boil as Pilsner malts produce more DMS precursors than other base malts and I want to drive them off with a longer boil.

The yeast I will be using is from my first attempt at reusing yeast.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

My Braggot - AKA Honey Ale

This is a picture of my Braggot

Braggot is the technical term for a half beer half mead.  The brew date was 06/25/11 and it was kegged on 07/29/11.  It was first tapped a couple of weeks ago.  The ingredients are as follows:

  • 5lbs - Domestic 2-row
  • 3lbs - Honey
  • 8oz - CaraPils/Dextrine 
  • 1oz - Glacier hops (60 min)
  • 1oz - Vanguard hops (flameout)
  • Wyeast 1056 - American Ale Yeast
I mashed in at 152F and batch sparged.  OG was 1.046 and FG was 1.000 giving me a 6.0% ABV beer.  Primary fermentation was at 62F for  three weeks.

This is a very light, easy to drink beer.  If I try this again, I think I will throw in some honey malt because there is almost no honey flavor to this.

My next two beers are already in the pipeline.  I have an American Pale Ale that is currently being dry hopped and will be kegged this weekend.  I also have a Scottish 70/- that is in the primary fermenter.  I'll probably move it to the secondary this weekend.  I've brewed the Scottish Ale before as an extract beer, but this one is all grain.  I'm adding a little twist this time though as I'm going to soak some oak chips in Scotch and will throw the whole mixture in the secondary.

Monday, August 29, 2011

My Farmehouse de Saison and Bulk Grain Purchase

This is a picture of my Saison.

The brew date was 03/05/11 and it was kegged on 03/27/11.  It was first tapped in early May.  The ingredients are as follows:

  • 6lbs - Domestic 2-row
  • 5lbs - White Wheat Malt
  • 1lb - Belgium Candi Sugar
  • 8oz - Caravienne
  • 8oz - Torrified Wheat
  • 1oz - Bitter Orange Peel
  • 0.5oz - Coriander Seed
  • 0.5oz - Seeds of Paradise
  • 1oz - Saaz hops
  • Wyeast 3942 - Belgian Wheat Yeast
I mashed in at 148F and double-batch sparged.  OG was 1.065 and FG was 1.010 giving me a 7.2% ABV beer.  Primary fermentation was at 62F for  three weeks.

At 7.2%, this is a fairly big beer but deceptively so.  The spices and the fruity esters from the Belgian yeast really hide the alcohol.

I also ordered what should be a years supplies of grains for brewing.  Here is the list:
  • 50lbs - Rahr 2-row (Domestic malt)
  • 55lbs - Muntons Maris Otter (British malt)
  • 55lbs - Weyermann Pilsner (German lager/pilsner malt)
  • 5lbs - Crystal 20L
  • 5lbs - Crystal 60L
  • 5lbs - Special B 120L
  • 5lbs - Aromatic
  • 5lbs - Roasted Barley
  • 5lbs - Carafa III
  • 5lbs - Pale Chocolate
  • 10lbs - Munich II
  • 5lbs - White Wheat malt
For those not familiar with brewing terminology, the 20L refers to the color in degrees Lovibond.  The lower the number, the lighter the color.  Lovibond has largely been replaced by SRM in the U.S. and EBC in Europe.

I still need to do a bulk hops purchase and I will buy yeast as needed.  Tomorrow I'll do another update with my third beer on tap and go over what I have in the pipeline.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

My Bohemian Pilsner

This is a picture of my Bohemian Pilsner (name suggestions are encouraged).

This was my first lager I've tried brewing.  The brew date was 04/02/11 and it was kegged (for lagering) on 05/09/11.  It was first tapped earlier this month.

The ingredients are as follows:
  • 9lbs - Domestic 2-row
  • 8oz - CaraPils/Dextrine 
  • 8oz - Crystal 10L
  • 2oz - Saaz hops(1oz at 60min, 1oz at flameout)
  • Saflager S-23 dry lager yeast
I mashed in at 150F and double-batch sparged.  OG was 1.046 and FG was 1.012 giving me a 4.5% ABV beer.  My efficiency was only 64% but I've since tightened the crush of my grains to give me better efficiency.  Primary fermentation was at 60F and I lagered at 38F.

I've seen many complaints on online message boards regarding S-23 yeast.  Since this is my first lager I have nothing to compare it to, but I'm very happy with the taste of this and absolutely love the hops flavor of the Saaz hops.

Tomorrow I'll post a pic of another one of my beers that are on tap and will also discuss my first bulk grain purchase.

More about my current setup

Here are some pictures of my current setup.  This is my kegerator which is a chest freezer with a wood collar.  The top one is of the disorganized inside.  I'm planning on replacing my 4-way manifold for a 6-way and pinning it to the wall of the collar to make it a little more clean.  I can fit six kegs inside with the 10" collar. 

This picture is the outside of the kegerator with three stainless steel Perlick faucets.  Once I buy the new six-way gas manifold, I will add a fourth tap.

Here is a picture of my fermentation chamber.  It is just an insulated box with a computer fan that blows air past ice and circulates it around the fermenter.  I can drop the internal temperature about 15-20 degrees below the ambient temperature.  This is sitting in my basement which is usually in the upper 60's during the summer and lower 60's during the winter.
This is a picture of my mash/lauter tun.  It is a modified 70qt Coleman Extreme cooler.

Friday, August 26, 2011


Since this is my first post for my new blog, I thought I would begin by giving a background on my brewing experience.  I started brewing a few years ago.  My equipment began with a kit similar to this: Basic Beer Equipment Kit

All my beer at that time was bottled and I bought extract kits with specialty grains.
I did this for two or three years then late last year I got a turkey fryer and a cooler so that I could begin all-grain brewing.

Early this year I bought a chest freezer, added a collar to it and bought the equipment for kegging my beer.  My current setup is four kegs and three taps.