Thursday, January 31, 2008

Like a good day skiing... Pine Tar Porter requires a pair...of yeasts? Named for the sticky malt extract like substance I use to recondition my wooden skis for the first snow of winter, my porter has been given another yeast; a lager yeast this time. I've been bitten by this lagering bug, and I've just read the book Brew Like a Monk. Those Belgian beers often use more than one yeast, so I feel like I'm in good company. After transferring my dunkel, I swirled the protein/yeast sludge and poured about a cup of it into my keg with my porter, which I've decided (and confirmed) is too sweet. I've rigged up a blow off tube from the CO2-in peg into a Scotch bottle with sanitizer solution added (I recommend single malt scotch bottles for experiments such as these, it's well worth the investment). The dunkel's Brix has dropped to 8.6 and still fermenting well after the transfer. We shall see about the porter/dark lager.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I'm going to lager my ale

What makes a good beer? Tradition? Ingredients? Knowledge? Of course, all of these go into a good beer. My first brew of 2008, Pine Tar Porter, is almost a great beer. I say almost because its still too sweet. The yeast is slow if not stopped (it's White Labs Cal V that I saved in the fridge after 2 batches) The SG is 1.022 if it was at 1.015 this beer would be great. So, I'm going to try something new: When I transfer my dunkel tomorrow I'm going repitch the porter with the lager yeast from the dunkel primary and see if it will balance it out. I'll keep you posted...

Sunday, January 27, 2008

2008 Batch #3 recipe: Avuncular Dunkel

I brewed another lager this weekend. This time I'm trying a dunkel which I've named for a good friend of mine who is currently in South Korea. I have to admit, I don't know a lot about these German brews and I'm really enjoying brewing something new. I transfered my pils and used the yeast sediment with a bit of beer left over to pour into this new batch. The Mystery Pils tastes great: like a field of flowers. I hope it keeps that character through the fermentation. Here is the recipe for my current batch:

This is basically "Jump be Nimble... dunkel" recipe from Papazian's Home Brewer's Companion with a few modifications.

  • 5.5 lbs Vienna malt
  • 2 lbs dark Munich malt
  • 0.5 lbs Belgian aromatic malt
  • 0.5 lbs crystal malt (lvb 49-69)
  • 0.33 lbs chocolate malt
  • 0.125 lbs black patent malt
  • .75 oz Norther Brewer
  • 1 oz Willemette

This was suppose to be a protein step mash beginning at 122 deg, however I was at 127 which is where I let it rest for 30 min. I achieved this by adding the grain to 2.5 G of 130 deg H2O. I then added 1.25 G Boiling H2O to bring the temp up to 155 deg I needed to add a little heat to achieve this. After 30 minutes the mash pasted the iodine test (see below) and I mashed out at 170 deg, transfered to the lauter tun and sparged with 4 G of 170 deg H2O.

Iodine test after 30 minutes at 127 deg...
after another 30 min at 155 deg (the orange near the top is the iodine, the dark spots are black malts).


When the worth was boiling I added 0.5 oz of Northern Brewer hops. After 15 minutes I added anther .25 oz of NB. At 45 minutes I added .75 oz of Willemette and 1 tsp of Irish Moss. At 60 minutes I shut off the heat and added .25 oz of Willemette, let it rest for 2 minutes and began chilling with my immersion chiller. When it was below 85 deg I transfered to a clean primary and poured in the sludge form my Mystery pils primary. Brix = 12.2. It was bubbling by midnight. In the morning I moved the primary to the basement where the temperature is about 60 degrees. After 4 or 5 days I'll transfer to the secondary and move the fermentation to my lagering cellar which is currently at 42 degrees.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

So, thats what a session beer is!

I've been doing a lot of beer reading lately and have come across this term several times. After perusing the Beer Advocate site, I came across this definition of a session beer. Now we all know, and of course knowing is half the battle.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

2008 Batch #2 Recipe: Mystery Pils

So, here is recipe as promised. Its a combination/modification of a few pilsners in Papazian's books.

  • 8 lbs Pilsen malt (what kind? Either US or Belgian, who knows? See this post for details.)
  • .5 lbs Belgian Aromatic Malt
  • .5 oz Garden grown Norther Brewer (the last of my stash unfortunately)
  • 1 oz Mt. Hood (% AA= 4.2)
  • 1 oz Willemette (% AA= 4.5)
  • White Labs Pilsner yeast WL800
I'm used my new 8 gallon mash tun/brew kettle which was great. It held temperature well needing only a few heat applications. Mash as follows: 8qts H2O at 145 deg F add grain; needed slight heat to bring to 133 for 30 mins (+ or - 2 deg). Added 4 qts of boiling H2O to bring mash to 155; I kept it 151-155 for 45 minutes. An iodine test showed complete conversation after this time. I raised the temp to 158 for 10 minutes and then to mashed out at 168. Oops, forgot to get my 4 gallons of sparge H20 to 170, so while I was getting the mash to 168 I heated my sparge water (I have to stop forgetting this!). I use a zapap lauter system (ie the bucket with holes drilled in from Papazian's Joy of Home Brewing). I've reduced the amount of foundation water I need by cutting the top of the strainer bucket off so it sits on the spigot of the outer bucket. When sparging with this system, I recirculate the first .5 gallons of runoff.

When I reached boiling, I added the .5 oz of Northern Brewer Hops. Then .5 oz of Willemette at 15min, .5 oz Mt. Hood at 30, .5 oz Willemette at 45 and the final .5 of Mt. Hood when I shut off the heat. I use a homemade immersion chiller to get the wort below 90 then into my primary and pitched the yeast. I was just below 5 gallons, so I added cold water to bring it just above. The original Brix reading was 11.4 which is an OG of about 1.046.

I'll post later about some things I learned about my new system and what I will do different next time...

Friday, January 18, 2008

A name change already?

I've changed the name of this blog from Yet another beer blog to Tales from the mash tun for three reasons. 1) There are a lot of hits on Google for blog posts with this title, more careful research would have kept me from this error. 2) Yet another beer blog is kind of ho-hum and implies that this blog is merely one of many mediocre blogs about beer. 3) Tales from the Mash Tun sounds better.

Happy Brewing

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Mystery Pils

I've locked up my second batch for 2008 this evening at 8:00pm: my first pilsner all grain or otherwise. The mystery is that I don't know if the malt I used is US or Belgian in origin. I stopped in at the Michigan Brewing Co's new location to pick up some stuff at the Things Beer store. I asked the helpful employee to weigh out 8lbs of US pilsen malt which he did...maybe...because when I got home my receipt said Belgian pilsen malt. So, after a phone call they took care of monetary concerns (the Belgian is 50 cents more per pound) but there is no way to tell what I had so I did what any good brewer would do and made it into beer anyway. Belgian pilsen is slightly more modified than the US, which could mean I'll get a slightly higher gravity than if I had the US malt (that is if I don't have the US pilsen malt). If you haven't been to MBC's new location you should check it out. It seemed kind of sterile to me at first being in an industrial park building, but the bar in nice and it really made room for their increased production. I refilled a growler with the Rye Bock which was excellent. Well worth the stop and the confusion with my grain. I'll post the recipe soon

Monday, January 14, 2008

TEE-HEE... my new mash tun/brew kettle has arrived

Well now, its time to get serious. If I'm going to be brewing all grain, I need a brew kettle that can hold 5-6 gallons of wort. So, I've purchased an 8 gallon "mega pot" from Norther Brewer with a ball valve to accommodate this. I think it will do the job. My first batch with this will be Mystery Pils (AGB #4); stay tunned to find out what the mystery is.
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Is it really necessary to create more banter about beer on the internet?

I answer with a resounding, "yeah, why not." I've recently taken the step into all grain brewing (pun intended) and it really has chanced how I perceive brewing. I live in the great beer state of Michigan and am blessed with a cornucopia of brew from lake to shining lake, even our small town grocery store has a nice selection. This year will prove to be interesting with the ingredient shortages (have you seen the price of hops lately?) and with brewers always trying new ideas. I wish I would have harvested all of the hops from my garden instead of leaving a good pound or two hanging (I didn't use all the ones from last year so I didn't sweat it when I didn't get every last one...). So, with that introduction this is what I hope to bring to this blog: documentation of my journey through all-grain (some might say real) brewing, comment on the Michigan brew scene, hits and tips learned the hard way for other brewers. Remember: if you don't brew your own, support your local brewery!