Thursday, May 30, 2013

Growing Hops in San Antonio!!!

So I had a impulse buy yesterday on the internet, hop rhizomes! 2x Cascade, Centennial, Columbus, and Chinook. The Chinook has already broken through the dirt.

More to come later!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

SWMBO Slayer!

1.010, color is yellow and hazy.
Notice the krausen level.

Final take: 49 bottles of various sizes.
So the Slayer came it at 1.010, ~ 6.5%! Tasted pretty good right out of the bucket. Normally I don't particularly care for this style of beer, but my wife likes this style which is why I made it. So a few things to note about Wyeast #3944 Belgian Wit that I have learned/read:

1. Krausen - from the website, you need 33% head room for the krausen, so for a 5 gallon batch you would in theory need a container that would be  6.65 gallons to accommodate for the krausen growth during fermentation.

2. Fermentation is violet, vigorous and prolonged. I kept thinking it would be over soon, but it stayed very active for 10+ days, I think it finally started to settle down around the 11 or 12 day mark and I bottled it on the 15th day.

3. Produces a skunk or sulfur like smell. Don't get me wrong, the beer tasted good, but at bottling it smelled very skunky. I read around the internet and this seems to be a fairly common occurrence.

4. This yeast strain (from what I've read) does well in a higher temperature environment. At first I was keeping it in the lower end of the spectrum (64ish), however towards the end I let it get up to 74. The jury is still out, but we'll see soon enough.

And for my next brew, I've got a few options - an True Brew English Nut Brown Ale partial extract kit and a few canned extract kits from Muntons. I think I might go the easy route and do the canned 20 minute boil extract kits. I'm not sure how much time I'll have to donate to beer the rest of this month and April is looking just as busy.

Below is a picture of the Irish Red Ale I made, I personally didn't like it very much but my wife did. I brewed it with some friends one day after work. 
Irish Red Ale that my wife liked.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Belgian Blonde Update

Blow off tube definitely needed with this yeast!

Nailed my temps!
So after some reading and research and of course, some brewing blunders, I ended up at 1.060, which will give a beer with approximately 6.4% ABV (Alcohol By Volume). That temp was taken after an hour long mash, I hit 152ish before. I was shooting for 153 or 154, but I'll take 151.9 after an hour. So I pulled the water off the stove at 166-167. I think next time I'll go ahead and pull it at 168-169 or even 170. I think this will give me more flexibility within the mash (easier to cool off then to heat up). So I followed the normal protocol, 1.25 qts/lb of water/grain, pulled almost 2 gallons of the first run, then hit 5 gallons on the sparge/mashout. I ended up with 71% efficiency, which would bring me to 1.043, the low end of the spectrum. However I was reading from the recipe on Homebrewtalk and a lot of people were getting 1.065, so I thought I screwed up and I added 3.3lbs of Liquid Malt Extract to bring it up to 1.060. Looking at numerous calculators I ended up with 71% at 1.043, so I think I have narrowed down my efficiency problem to hard water.  If you see the fermentor bucket, the key things to notice are the blow off tube with this yeast and the temperature strip on the side. If you could read it, it would say 64-66, which I'm happy with. The fermentor is sitting in my garage bubbling away like crazy. I brewed this on Sunday (10 MAR 2013).

Will be dropping off my IPA for the local homebrew competition, ( today, hopefully it'll win an award. I was going to drop off the ESB, however I don't have enough of the correct type of bottles. I also want to pick up my next batch of grains today, but I don't know what to make. Will try and get some pictures of the IPA later tonight. I also changed the name to Nicole's IPA (my wife's name) instead of Drew, Sorry Drew.

I'm really looking into getting a mill, probably a Corona mill. I have read that your efficiency will improve significantly if you mill your own grains. You can pick up a Corona Mill off Amazon for like 30 bucks or I can pick it up at the homebrew store for $51.99. I really don't want to pay $51, but 20-30 is doable, but then I have to pay shipping which brings it to $40. Homebrew decisions can be so hard, and I really enjoy making simple improvements in the process to yield better results.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Drew's American IPA

The Krausen got a little out of control.

Changed up my bottling technique, went well.
Notice the color and clarity! Came it at 1.012 for an ABV of 5.6%

I can't explain how beautiful this beer looked, smelled and tasted.

And lastly my other hobby, BBQ! The ribs turned out great!
    Okay, so I just finished up bottling the All Grain IPA. I think it really turned out great. The color, clarity and smell is by far the best that I've made! It is weird because I was really worried about this beer, the efficiency sucked and I used hard water (soft water was empty). But the beer tasted absolutely amazing. I really am looking for to drinking this one. I have a few bottles I'm going to go ahead and send to some friends and family and based off my initial tasting, I'm going to go ahead and send this one into the Home Brew Competition.

     Notice the ribs, next brew day I'm going to do ribs/brisket/homebrew. Probably make the day that much more enjoyable. Still on for March 11th to brew Wife Slayer! Can't wait, I'm excited!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Wife Slayer!

     So my next brewing goal is to make beer SWMBO (She Who Must Be Obeyed) will like. I looked around on the internets and decided I would go ahead with an all grain kit from Midwest Supplies. This is actually a cheap all grain kit and should come in around 6.5%. As a precaution, I went ahead and ordered some light malt extract to deal with any efficiency problems like I had with the IPA. My wife also gave me the go ahead to start kegging, so I ordered that last night with some random things, like an American Ale kit. The American Ale kit I ordered is a cheap extract kit that I ordered to test out the kegs on. I bought a 2 keg system, so I will probably just keg the IPA anyway. I'm really looking forward to my next brewing session, but I'm not sure when that will be. I really want to just get home from work and starter up! However I have the wife, kids and work the next day. 

The Recipe I took from a gentlemen on the Homebrewtalk forum named BierMuncher and he said he bought it from Midwest, so I did the same. Originally I  could have pieced it together for about the same from the LHBS, but I figured I would try Midwest out, since the last time my efficiency sucked, I figured I would give someone else a chance.

Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: Belgian Wit WP400
Yeast Starter: Yeast Cake From Prior Brew
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.25
Original Gravity: 1.057
Final Gravity: 1.008
IBU: 18.9
Boiling Time (Minutes): 60
Color: 4.9 (SRM)
Primary Fermentation (# of Days & Temp): 14 Days (65 degrees)
Additional Fermentation: One week chilling in keg
Secondary Fermentation (# of Days & Temp): 7 Days (65 degrees)

Style: Belgian Blond Ale
TYPE: All Grain
Taste: (45.0)

Recipe Specifications
Batch Size: 5.25 gal
Boil Size: 6.50 gal
Estimated OG: 1.053 SG
Estimated Color: 4.9 SRM
Name:  Belgian_Blonde_Color.jpg
Views: 22057
Size:  873 Bytes
Estimated IBU: 18.9 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.0 %
Boil Time: 60 +/- Minutes

Amount Item
5.00 lb Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM)
4.00 lb Wheat Malt, Bel (2.0 SRM)
0.50 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt - 10L (10.0 SRM)
0.50 lb Wheat, Flaked (1.6 SRM)
0.25 lb Caravienne Malt (22.0 SRM)
1.00 oz Williamette [5.50%] (60 min)

1 Pkgs Belgian Wit Ale (White Labs #WLP400) Yeast-Wheat

Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Medium Body (154-156 degrees), Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 10.25 lb

This is a basic Belgian Blonde AG recipe kit I got from Midwest. Awesome beer. I ended up pitching this onto a Belgian Wit (WL400) yeast cake from a prior session. This was a long primary. 14 days and very vigorous.

I named it the SWMBO Slayer because it is decievingly potent. A very smooth, mellow tase with a medium body and just a hint of the fruity flavor from the yeast. Very refreshing.

My SWMBO loves this beer, but one glass on an empty stomach and she was out like a light at 7:00PM. I'll definitely do this one again and may back off on the Pale by about a pound to bring the ABV down a bit.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

IPA All Grain

Nailed the Temps!

Looks dark but it actually was a normal pale color

Latest and great All Grain Batch - a 15 lb monster of an IPA! At least that is what it was supposed to be. For some reason, my efficiency hit an ultimate low - 57%. I hit 1.054 or possibly even 1.052. I was shooting for a 1.071, but ended up with a really low number. I hit all my numbers almost perfectly. Was shooting for 152 on the temp, hit 152.7. I really don't know what happened, I opened it up after 1 hour and it was at 151. So my temps were right on. According to the internets, it always seems to be the crush. I always use my LHBS (Local Home Brew Store) to crush my grains and so far I have gotten 72% and 74%. I narrowed it down to what I believe the problem is: no salt pellets in the soft water softener. We have really hard water here in San Antonio, so I think that is what it is. I'm really bummed, but on the plus side, originally it was a big beer, so efficiency only turns it down to a normal beer at around the 5.5% side. Well within the standards of an IPA. I'll be entering this into a local home brew competition here along with my English Special Bitter, which turned out amazing! The ESB is the best beer I have ever made. I was worried it would be too sweet, but it turned out perfect.

Here's the recipe I used with some notes from brewday:

13 lbs Pale Ale malt 2 row (US)
1 lb Munich Malt (German 1)
8 oz Carafoam/Dextrine
8 oz Crystal 40L
1 Tab Whirlfloc

1 oz Cascade @ 60
1 oz Palisade @ 20
1 oz Ahtanum @ 15
1 oz Summit @ 5

Yeast: Wyeast American Ale 1056.

Will Update with pics of the brew and a pic of the ESB - which like I said earlier, is amazing - after I get my cell phone charged up.
**And here it is! I'll enter this in the local home brew competition.  Hopefully I'll be able to say award winning ESB soon! As you can see, its definately not clear, it is a dark beer. I was worried about the sweetness, but it actually came out okay. It may be a little on the sweet side, but definitely good. I will make this again, but I think I'll go about the crystal a little differently, maybe 1 lb of crystal 60 and a little less on the Maris Otter. The flavors are bold and do really come through, so I don't know. This beer is really good and gets your pretty drunk after a few (7.1%).

Monday, February 4, 2013

2nd All Grain! Bottled...

Uncarbonated beer!

1.012! ABV = 7.1%
 Ok, so as you can see from the pics above - we bottled the 2nd All Grain beer last night!  It tasted pretty good. I can't believe it tasted that good, I can't wait to see what it tastes like when its carbonated and cold! So a few things, I got a little lazy and my brewing partner called me on it last night. I have been bottling using the my old method from Kansas, where I would just add about 1/2 teaspoon of Dextrose to each 12 ounce bottle. It works great on the Cooper's kits I made. It didn't work very well on the Edwort's Hauz Pale Ale (1st All Grain). Although Edwort's recipe did taste good, it was not carbonated very well. I also used Irish Moss, and it seems the beers I don't use Irish Moss on seem to carb up nicely. My buddy pointed out that we should probably just boil the water and use the 5 ounces per 5 gallon batch of beer. It's all about improvement right? I mean it does make sense, I spent about 5 hours on the all grain batch and now I'm going to cut some corners on the carb process?  I really want to just get a kegerator, but I need more time brewing before my wife will "let" me get a kegerator. Oh well, overall it's a pretty good night, the beer I made tasted pretty good and its going to be 7.1% ABV! No one understands how cool that is, SWMBO (She Who Must Be Obeyed) just didn't get it, I mean - 7.1% and it doesn't even taste like a strong beer at all. Oh well...also, my brewing partner and SWMBO decided I can't be trusted with the beer we brew, so they took the beer to his house and we'll drink it when it's ready. Also, I used some 1 liter bottles that a friend gave me from a Mr. Beer Kit, they are plastic. Did I tell you the beer tasted awesome and I can't wait to drink it?