Saturday, January 26, 2013

ESB (Extra Special Bitter)

This is my second All Grain batch. I had an early day at work, so I went straight to the LHBS (Local Home Brew Store) and got some grains. I came up with this recipe on the fly, so we'll see how it turns out. I essentially took it from a northern brewer kit and added a few more lbs. I'm trying for an Extra Special Bitter. Everything went really well and I tried to just relax and enjoy the home brew experience. I almost nailed my temps, but I was off by like 2 degrees, so I added about 2 quarts of 200 degree water to bring it up to ~ 151. Mashed there for an hour and then started the boil. Total time was 5 hours, so I shaved about 100 minutes off the time. I even enjoyed some games of Call of Duty while I was mashing, so overall a good day! Here is the recipe I used:

- 12 lbs Maris Otter
-  2  lbs Crystal 60L

- 2 oz Willamette @ 60 min
- 1 oz UK Kent Easting (something like that, I can't remember) @ 15 min
- 1 oz UK Kent Easting @ 5 min

Wyeast London ESB #1968

Just a couple of random thoughts on the whole process. It is much more enjoyable when you relax and just let it happen, I didn't stress or worry about hitting exact temps. Looking back on my recipe, I think I should have lessened the Crystal 60 to maybe 1 lbs. I was worried about my efficiency so I upped everything and I didn't do it proportionately. I don't really know why, I just did it that way. I mashed in the lower end of the spectrum, so I hope that leads to a drier beer with most of the sweetness coming from the Crystal and not the Maris Otter. I'm really worried this beer will come out way too sweet. It had an OG of 1.066, big beer! Wyeast has like a starter attached to it, so now it's going absolutely gangbusters! I haven't had this fast of activity in such a short time period (12 hours). I think I might need to do a blow off tube because its literally going that fast. I'm trying to keep temps down using a plastic container with ice around it, but temp seems to stay at 74. That is the high end of the temperature range for the yeast. I really have some high hopes for this beer, as the entire day went much better than my last all grain. And speaking of my last All Grain, I had a couple last  night and it is really good. It is a pale ale with cascade hops. It isn't quite ready, but its so good I can't help but drink it. It probably still needs about 1 more week to carbonate.

End of the Mash @ 150, not bad eh?
Cool Picture of the wort, notice the wort chiller, thanks Paula!
Much darker beer than my last one

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Grandpa's Batch

Bottled Grandpa's Batch last night and managed to break another hydrometer! So this is a quick batch we decided to do with my father-in-law earlier in December. Couple of notes - see the green bottles above? Stella Artois and Pilsner Urquell do not work for bottling homebrew beer! Found that out the hard way! Only difference in this batch from the last batch is we used Nottingham yeast instead of Cooper's. I was really hoping using Nottingham's ale yeast would make a better beer, but tasting it out of the fermenter, it tasted very cidery, which evidently is caused by using the sugar the kit calls for. The pro tip for making kits from a Cooper's can is to use DME (Dry Malt Extract) instead of sugar for a better beer. There are a few things I would like to try, such as using DME in addition to the Cooper's can and throwing some specialty grains like Crystal 60 in the batch. I guess I just need to keep brewing, but I can't decide what I want to do next. In typical homebrew fashion, I tried a bottle of the All Grain while bottling and it tasted fantastic but is still flat. I really need to leave it alone for at least another week.

 So I really think All Grain so far seems to very superior, it is purely anecdotal as I haven't tried to make an extract American Pale Ale. I will be brewing this weekend, either another All Grain or a True Brew Nut Brown Ale. I really want to try Marris Otter as the base malt in a Pale Ale/IPA, I guess I just need to brew more so I have beer around for me to drink. So many things I want to try, so little time to actually brew, I'm not sure if I want to do more of the All Grain or do some quick down and dirty kits and throw some stuff together to see what I like best. The only limiting factors for me are really cost, the Cooper's can costs $20, throw in some extra hops, specialty grains and DME and I'll be pushing $40, whereas the All Grain cost me $19 total and I believe so far has produced far superior beer. I guess in the end its all about how much is your time worth.

You'll notice the beer tree in back that I just recently got from my mother-in-law for my birthday. She also got me a wort chiller, temperature gauge for the fermenter, bottle cleanser and bottle washer. I have an awesome setup now and I think it is complete. I really can't wait to brew this weekend, I might even brew twice since I have to empty fermenter buckets!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

All Grain Update!

Finished bottling the All Grain last night! It came it at 1.008 FG, with a OG of 1.047 that gives me an ABV of 5.2%. Just some notes from the recipe (posted below), I was trying to get an OG of 1.51, however I missed it and hit 1.047 and the FG was supposed to be 1.010, however I hit 1.008. I don't think this will affect it that much but I don't know! I also had more water than 5.5 gallon size due to Mash Tun Temperature issues. I also spilled some grains in the garage , I don't think it was that much, but every little bit helps. While bottling I seemed to pick up a bunch of hops/trub. I think I might have hit the siphoning tube against the bottom and knocked some loose. I would normally use my bottling bucket, but it was full of Coopers Draught that Grandpa helped brew. I was drinking the "Dishwater" draught and it has finally turned into a very good beer. I was eating Pizza and Drinking my home brew last night and it was great! At first the Draught tasted a little strange or "green," as I have read on the forums. But is good now! I'm down to my last few IPA bottles and they are so good, I think I will do an IPA and use the exact same hop schedule. I really want to make the PSA IPA again it is that good, however it is an expensive kit at $40. I think I can make it via all grain for half the price.

My Biggest problem now is: BOTTLES! I have a few friends bringing in bottles and what not, but I'm still terribly short and I've got Grandpa's Batch is still sitting in the fermentor ready to be bottled. I know people on the internet hate this, but I am probably going to order some Plastic bottles that are 1 liter, it'll just help so much with the bottling process, think about it - roughly 23 bottles per 5.5 gallon batch. That seems a whole hell of a lot easier than 55 (12 ounce) bottles. Anyway, I'll debut my all grain at the Super Bowl!

Some other random notes from my beers:

1) Cooper's Draught takes roughly 3 weeks in bottles and 11 days in the fermentor, so all told it is a 32 day process to get drinkable beer from a Cooper's can. Overall I'm actually pleased.

2) I gave about 4 pints of IPA to friends from work and another 4 from friends from Church, everyone loved the IPA except the guy who didn't drink beer. SWMBO (She who must be obeyed) likes the IPA and she doesn't like IPA's!

3) Pro tip: Don't ferment in your bottling bucket!

I took this recipe from here:

Edworts Bee House Brewery Haus Pale Ale:

Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: Nottingham
Yeast Starter: Nope
Additional Yeast or Yeast Starter: Nope
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.5
Original Gravity: 1.051
Final Gravity: 1.011
IBU: 39
Boiling Time (Minutes): 60
Color: 5 SRM
Primary Fermentation (# of Days & Temp): 10 Days at 68 degrees

This is my Haus Pale Ale. A very quaffable beer that is very easy to make using basic ingredients and a dry yeast.

Grain Bill
8 lbs. 2-Row Pale Malt
2 lbs. Vienna Malt
0.5 lb. Crystal 10L Malt

Single Infusion mash for 60 minutes at 152 degrees.
I batch sparge in a 10 gallon water cooler with a stainless braid manifold. Dough-in with 3.5 gallons of water. After 60 minutes, add 5 quarts of 175 degree water and begin vorlauf. My system only takes about 2 quarts before it clears up, then it's wide open to drain in the kettle. Have another 3.25 gallons of 175 degree water ready for the next batch sparge. You should then get 6.5 gallons to your kettle for the boil.

Boil & Hops
1.0 oz Cascade 6.6% at 60 min.
0.5 oz. Cascade 6.6% at 30 min.
0.25 oz. Cascade 6.6% at 15 min.
0.25 oz. Cascade 6.6% at 5 min.

Chill to 70 to 75 degrees

Pitch with Nottingham Dry Yeast. No starter or hydration.

Friday, January 4, 2013

1st All Grain!

Enjoying a homebrew while making a homebrew!

Pouring the grain in
Finally my brewing buddy shows up! Priorities - The hobbit w/ fam or brewing beer?
Okay, so I will briefly sum this up while I am waiting for the wort to cool down. Never again will I brew without a wort chiller. It is 1:27 and I am still waiting for the damn wort to cool down to temperature! I really thought about it, but I was at my Local Homebrew Store (LHBS) and decided against picking it up. Big F!@#$ing mistake! I wrote down a lot of shit, but let me tell you this, I think I royally messed this one up. My errors were many, I was a nervous wreck but I think I will get beer. I posted a lot on this forum: to sum it up - I panicked! Temps were off/right on, I don't know! They seemed right on, then I checked it about 3 minutes later and they were off, so I adjusted, finally I just said screw it and thought I got to the right temp and sealed the cooler. When I opened it up and let the thermometer sit, it showed my best case temp, 152 - is that a good thing? I don't know. So everything went fine after that, batch sparged for the first time and did all that along with vorlaugh. It was great, I will do a starting gravity meter reading soon (once it Fing cools down) and then I'll know how I did. It looks good, does that count? More to follow with a less drunken rage/frustration.

*** Some notes so we can reproduce this if it turns out good:
1)  Opened the Mash Tun after 1 hour and it was right at 152, what it was supposed to be. My assumption is that the final resting temperature was somewhere between 154-158 and eventually lowered to 152. Many brewer's with a similar equipment setup report a 1 to 2 degree loss in temperature.
2)   I have been switching between the garage (where temps are around 58) to my laundry room (where temps are roughly 74-78 degrees). During the day when its 58 in the garage I will ferment there, however once it starts to cool down at night I move it into the laundry room where it is currently 74 degrees. I will probably crack the garage door open to let a little to lower the temp.
3)  Also, I found out through that I didn't check my SG (starting gravity) I checked my OG (Original Gravity).
4)  My OG was 1.047, I took a couple of readings and that was the lowest. Calculated out I did 72% efficiency. I think the main contributing problem to a lower efficiency (although I'm happy with 72%) is I ended up panicking and adjusting too much during the mash. I checked the temp about 3 minutes into the mash and it was at 158, so I poured some cold water in. Went down to 148, then I added some boiling or close to boiling water to bring it back up to 152 and I just said screw it, I'm closing this lid and I'm not going to worry about it.
5)  I really want to figure out how to accurately read the temperatures in the mash. I just put a dairy thermometer that came with my original beer kit, is this good?  I will purchase a digital thermometer along with a wort chiller before my next batch.
6)  I'm not sure if I'm hopping right, I just throw the hops in, should I use a bag? I think next time I will use a bag.
7)  I'm not sure (yet) if all grain is worth the time investment. I think I can get it down to 4 or 4.5 hours which would make the whole process more enjoyable. To be quite honest, when I hit the 6 hour mark, I was pretty frustrated, I don't know if this is common or can be attributed to my nervousness during the brew.