Monday, May 18, 2009

Yeast Experiments Part I

I have a back-log of post topics (including 2 recipes), but I thought I would write about my recent yeast experiment. I've acquired a 13 gallon brew kettle which means I can now brew 10 gallon batches. So, I thought it would be fun to repeat the 15 Mile IPA and split the batch with two yeasts; Safale US-05 (the original) and Safale S-04.

Both dry yeasts were started the morning of brewing. Interestingly, the 04 began to sediment (flocculate) before the starters were pitched while the 05 had an even turbidity. I have read that the 04 could have violent starts, but I have used it before without problems. The 05 is an "American Ale yeast" and the 04 is an "English Ale yeast."

The 10 gallons of cooled wort were split into two primary fermenters and locked up at about 9:00pm. The following morning, this is what I woke up to...

Actually, Mt. Kraeusen formed after I pulled the foaming airlock from the lid. This was the 04. The 05 was chugging along nicely, but not had no inclinations of escaping.

After 2 days the 04 has virtually stopped bubbling (the foaming had ceased after the first day and I was able to reinsert the airlock) while the 05 continued at a steady pace. I kept them in the primary for a week until the 05 finally started to slow. I'll talk about the transferring, SG and my final conclusions in the next post...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Passing Through Pittsburgh... (part II)

As promised, here are a few more pictures of The Church Brew Works in Pittsburgh. Oh yeah, the beer and food are great too. I tried the Belgian at the brewery and bought a variety case during our travels (I was directed to a beer store from our hotel which was filled with pallets of cases of beer. You could only buy cases...even of Chimay! I guess that's one of the fun parts of States Rights! I'm assuming you could buy 6 packs are "regular" stores in PA). The Pale and India Pale Ales were good; on the malty side which was a nice change for me. I'm used to citrusy hop heavy pales that seem to be all over Michigan. The Dunkel was nice too.

The bright tanks behind the bar are watched over by saints.

A different view.

It's true! There is beer in heaven.From the steps of the Church you can see of the old Pittsburgh Brewing Co., home of Iron City Beer.

The other end of the Pittsburg Brewing Co. complex. It really is a beery block...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Passing Through Pittsburgh... (part I)

I suppose this is a semi-appropriate post for Easter. During our recent road trip to West Virgina, we passed through Pittsburgh. I have been wanting to visit The Church Brew Works for years so I was great to finally make it there. The brewery is in a stunning former Catholic church. The pictures really don't do it justice...

We found ample parking outside on the street, which was a nice surprise since I really had no idea what kind of neighborhood the brewery was in.

This is the view on facing the front. Since its a huge space my camara (or more acurately, I) had difficulties with the lighting.

The former altar is now the brewery.

A closer view of the brewhouse. The large stainglass medalion from the front is reflecting on the glass that separtes the sancu...I mean the tasting room from the brewhouse.

Slightly fuzzy details of the stunning glass in the reflection of the brewhouse glass separator . More photos to follow...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Miller Lite admites to tripple hopping...oh joy!!

I love marketing. It's really psychology which is an interesting subject. So, when a friend asked if I've seen the new Miller Lite commercials (I don't really watch TV) I had to try and find them on Youtube (however, I am addicted to the internet). I couldn't find them, so I went to their website instead. To which I say: "good job web advertising designers, you almost tricked me" but not quite. I love the fact that they are talking about hops, but seriously I've drunk my fair share of Miller Lite at wedding receptions and hops are not the main goal there(Full disclaimer: Miller High Life is my cheap beer of choice. Mostley because of the awesome label and that I used to drink 40's of it on the porch of my co-op in college (but when we had cash we would drink Bell's or Arcadia...etc)). Anyway, the point is that if the big guns are talking about hops it means that the craft beer movement (is it a movement or just common sense???) is something they are worried about. Which is good.

In other beer ad news: Natual Lite is marketing Saturday. Seriously, I saw a comerical the other day. They weren't marketing their beer they were marketing how awesome Saturday is (not their product)...particualry if you are in college and have a hot girlfriend. So beer lovers pay attention to what the mega-brews they are selling. I would totally buy Saturday. Wouldn't you?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

2009 Batch #2: 15 Mile IPA (AND bonus riddle!)

I'm excited about this beer. I crafted the recipe by comparing several online and then building it from what I had on hand. But, lets start with the riddle... Answer me this: Where did I get the name 15 Mile IPA? Comment with Yes or No questions only. This is your only hint:

Grain and Hop Bill:
Note: my original intent was to have 92% 2-row 8% Crystal ratio. The 92% base is the same, but I decided to use up a bunch of miscellaneous bits of malt I had to make up the rest. Also, I didn't quite have enough base malt for a 6 gallon batch so that's why is 5.3 gallons.

  • 12.5 lbs 2-row brewers (or pale if you perfer)
  • 7 oz 20L crystal malt
  • 5 oz Vienna malt
  • 7 oz Carapils
  • 3 oz Cascade hops (7.8% AA)
  • 1.5 oz Amarillo (8.2% AA)
The Mash:

Heat 4.5 gallons mash waster to 162º and start your 5.25 gallons of sparge water as well. This is an infusion mash, so when your water is up to temperature add your grain. Keep mash below 155º; below 152º is better. Mash until complete (mine took 75 minutes). Sparge and keep 6.4 gallons of run-off.

The Boil:

Add 1 oz of Cascade at 60 minute and at 40 minutes. Add 0.5 oz of Cascade at 20 and 10 minutes. Add 1 oz of Amarillo at flame-out. Pitched with dry Safale US-05 when cool. When transferring to your secondary (I did at 5 days) add 0.5 oz of Amarillo. OG= 1.068; FG=1.012.

Friday, February 20, 2009

2009 Batch #1 Recipe: Resolution Porter

This recipe uses the dark malts I roasted in January. As of this post, the beer is aging in my oak barrel.

The Grain Bill:

  • 11.1 lbs 2-row Brewer's Malt (Pale will work)
  • 13 oz Dark Crysal malt (135 LB)
  • 1.5 lbs Carapils
  • 15.5 oz 65 minute roasted malt
  • 15.5 oz 75 minute roasted malt
The Mash:

This is for a 5.5 gallon batch. Infusion mash with 5 gallons of H2O at 162º; add grain and the temperature should be somewhere around 153º. Keep it below 155º for the first 45 minutes then creep up to 160º until the conversion is complete and mash out. Sparge and collect 6.2 gallons of run-off.

The Boil:

A 60 minute boil starting with 0.5 oz Northern Brewer hops (AA 8.1%). At 30 minutes add another 0.5 oz Northern Brewer. At 15 minutes add 0.5 oz Cascade hops (Heritage Hops) and at flame out add another 0.5 oz Cascade hops. Chill and pitch with dry Safale US-05 yeast. The SG was 1.061 (wanted it to be 1.065).

Three weeks later I transfered the beer to my new oak barrel when the SG was near 1.0165. It tasted great, but heavy on the roasted/burnt flavors from the home-roasted dark malts. I think this will mellow out nicely.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

New Lautering System

I've used this new system for my last two batches of beer (I'll post the recipes soon: Whiskey Barrel Porter and 15 mile IPA). It works great. A friend of mine sent me a link (which I can't seem to find...) to a blogger who uses a picnic cooler mash-tun that utilizes the stainless steel mesh from a flexible waterline as the filter which I thought was a great idea. That post led me to make this contraption which I've since seen in the book Radical Brewing. I cut the slots in the 1/2 copper pipe with my band saw (wear gloves!!). Only the goose-neck connector is soldered; I left the rest of the connections free for modifications and cleaning. I was using the "Zapap" lauter-tun from Papazian's JofHB. This method eliminates a transfer step! If you have a mash-tun/brew kettle with a valve, I highly recommend a system like this.

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Roll out the barrel...literally

My 5 gallon barrel arrived today from The Barrel Mill in Minnesota. Its made from Northern American Oak and is a charred whiskey barrel. Barrels are generally toasted or charred to various degrees depending on whether they will be storing wine or whiskey. This one will be storing my recently brewed porter first (I'll put the recipe up soon). I used The Barrel Mill's oak spirals in my Rye Pale Ale and it turned out great. I can't wait to get the beer in the barrel! My one year old daughter is helping with the bung in the lower picture.

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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Final brew activity of 2008...making dark malt

What a year for brewing! I managed to make 8 all grain batches and learn a ton about brewing this year. I wanted to brew today (new years eve), but instead I'll prep today and brew tomorrow. As it turns out, I don't have enough chocolate or black patent for the porter I was planning on making. Since making the brown malt went so well, I thought I would try to make these as well. So, this is my the last brewing activity of 2008 (besides making a starter for the porter).

Making dark roasted malts

CAUTION: if you attempt to make dark roasted malts you must have adequate ventilation in your kitchen because it will be smokey (i.e. a range hood that vents to the outside and/or a fan on high speed in a kitchen window). Keep an eye on the malt at all times because the high temperature could result in a malt fire (although I had no problem with this).

With the disclaimer out of the way, lets begin. I tried to match the taste and internal malt color with some chocolate and black patent malt I had, but really, what I made is going to be unique since the malt is not going to heat evenly when only being stirred every 5-15 minutes. This is not a bad thing.

  • Spread malt on a cookie sheet. Don't fill it higher the the lip of the pan because it will spill when turning the malt
  • place pans in the oven and turn the oven on to 450.
  • turn malt with spatula and switch racks (if two pans are in the oven) every 15 minutes for the first 45 minutes
  • at this point the malt was beginning to smoke a little (i.e. burn) so I began to turn and switch racks every 5-8 minutes
  • I removed one pan at 65 minutes and the other at 75 minutes.
  • The temperature varied between 400-450 because of the door begin opened so often.

Original 2-row on the bottom, 65min on the left and 75min on the right
(with a few untoasted barley corns )

As you can see from the picture above, there is some variation in the malt. So, while this might not give the same results as the chocolate and black malts, I think its going to give a great flavor to the porter. The 75 could have gone longer, but it was smoking up my kitchen! This would be a good project for a grill! I recommend doing this went no one is home and then baking something else like cookies or a roast to cover up the burn malt smell (I'm going with lingonberry jam thumb print butter cookies...we were just at IKEA) and to give to your spouse or roommate when they get home.

Happy New Year! I'll be cracking my bottle of Velvet Hammer from the Arbor Brewery at Midnight. I can't wait.

Monday, November 17, 2008

2008 Batch #8 Recipe: Bog Trail Brown Ale

Brown ales are fall ales, at least in my book anyway. This beer (when I get it in a keg) will be perfect after late-fall walks like the one pictured below on the bog trail at the Discovery Center west of Chelsea, MI. The tamaracks were stunning this day.

Wife and daughter at the bog

Making Brown Malt: I wanted to make brown malt by toasting 2-row brewers in the oven. I generally toast a pound of my malt for all my ales, but this would be a longer than normal toast. I used the information from Brian Richards's post on making brown malt with a slight modification. This method seemed to work well and the beer tastes and looks great.

  • I started with 4lbs of 2-row split on two cookie sheets. I put the trays in the oven and then turned it on to 300ºF.
  • I stirred turned the malt and switched the cookie sheets at 15 minutes. The oven was at 250º.
  • At 30 minutes I turned the malt again and switched the racks. The oven was at 300º. I then turned the oven up to 350º.
  • At this point, I turned the malt and switched the racks every ten minutes for another 30 minutes for a total of 1 hour in the oven.
  • Then I pulled the sheets out and let the malt cool
I ended up with slightly less that 4lbs of brown malt due to driving off the moisture in the malt, so start with more malt than your recipe calls for. The malt was nice buff color on the inside and you could definately taste that difference.

Toasted brown malt on the left, untoasted 2-row Brewers on the right

Grain Bill:
  • 10lbs 2-row Brewers (or pale)
  • 3.5lbs brown malt
  • 6oz Dark crystal malt L135 - I picked this up from Mike O'brien in Ypsilanti. It has an interesting raisin flavor.  I also tasted some great homebrewed historical stouts and a "chips and salsa" brew that was strange and amazing durning that visit...
  • 5.5oz Carapils crystal malt
The Mash: I used an infussion mash starting at 150º for 15minutes then bumping up the heat to 157º for another 15 minutes. I kept the mash around 155º for another 30 minutes when the iodine test told me to stop. Sparged with ~5.5 gallons of 170º water and collected 6.25 gallons of run0ff.

The Boil:  Added one ounce of Northern Brewer when the boil was reached.  At 30 minutes I added 1/2 oz of cascade (from Heritage Hops).  At 45 minutes I added another 1/2 oz cascade. Turned it off at 1 hour and added 1/4 oz centennial.

Cooled and pitched Safbrew-04.  I've read that this yeast is a super fast starter that can cause problems, so I didn't make a yeast starter like I normally do and I put the fermenter on my back porch where it was slightly cooler.  I had a quick start and no problems.  This yeast is fast, it was done and almost totally settled out in 1 week.  The beer tastes great.  Now if could just find time to keg it...  The OG was 1.058 and the final is 1.012.