Sunday, November 25, 2012

Batch 2: 'Merican IPA: Tasting Day

This one turned out pretty good. It's quite hoppy and not far from Two Hearted Ale. It's just a touch greener and a tad sweeter. I think a few more days of conditioning will take care of some of that grassiness, but I'm guessing the barely-noticable sweetness was because the beer didn't fully attenuate since it was somewhat underpitched. The color, like my last batch, is darker than anticipated. I'm not entirely sure about that, but I think it might have something to do with the boil. Overall, though, it's a good beer.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Batch 2: 'Merican IPA: Bottling Day

I bottled this afternoon. I'm certainly getting better at that--although I somehow managed to step on and crush my airlock. I'm really optimistic about this one. This is going to be a long two weeks.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Batch 2: 'Merican IPA: Fermenting

The fermentation ramped up about 16 hours after pitching. It was going gangbusters for about 48 hours. It slowed enough four days into fermentation that I replaced the blowoff tube with the airlock. When I made the transition, I added the additional 0.7 oz. of hops for dry-hopping, and then left for a weekend out of town. When I returned 48 hours later, I found the airlock clogged and ejected from the carboy and a bunch of blowoff residue on the carboy, the ground, and the burlap sack I use to keep the carboy shielded from light. It stunk, literally. I cleaned, re-sanitized, and reseated the airlock immediately. There were no signs of active fermentation. I quickly hopped on Facebook to consult my brewing buddies, and they assured me that there probably wasn't much to worry about.

Today, 11 days after pitching, I took a sample of the beer with a thief to measure the gravity. It ended up being 1.022 ("corrected" from 1.022 at 64º). With an OG of 1.078, a quick calculation estimates the alcohol content (by volume) to be just over 7%, which puts it right on par with the actual Two(-)Hearted Ale. I tasted the beer, and while it's a bit on the sweet side, the hop character seemed right on. I'm planning to bottle this weekend.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Batch 2: 'Merican IPA: Pitching

I've found an issue about which I'm a little confused. I fear the guy at my local homebrew supply shop mislead me. I ended up using three 3.3 lb. (net weight) Briess "CBW Golden Light" liquid malt extract (LME) packages for the wort. I think--but am not certain--that the weight specified in recipes for LME is for the initial weight of the grain used in the wort that is concentrated, not the net weight of the LME. If this is indeed an error, I think I used too much LME. The starting gravity listed on the LME packaging is 1.035 per pound per gallon. The original gravity should be 1.064 according to recipe. My measured original gravity is 1.078. I'm worried that by using only a single Wyeast packet that I will be under-pitching the yeast. I guess we'll see.

Anyone out there in-the-know who can educate me about LME weight and proper pitching rates?

Regardless, the wort temperature was down to about 70º today so I pitched the yeast and set up the blowoff tube.

Batch 1: 'Merican IPA: Brewing Day

I started my second batch yesterday. You can find the full ingredient list here. Here was the program:
  1. Boil 4 gallons of water and set aside.
  2. Steep 10 oz. of CaraPils in 2 gallons of water for 30 min. at 155º and 10 minutes off heat.
  3. Add LME off heat and boil to break for 45 minutes.
  4. Hop.
    1. 0.7 oz. T-60 min.
    2. 0.7 oz. T-45 min.
    3. 0.7 oz. T-30 min.
    4. 0.7 oz. T-15 min.
    5. 0.7 oz. 0 min. for 10 minutes off heat
  5. Chill in ice water bath to break.
  6. Combine wort and water in carboy.
  7. Measure original gravity.
  8. Aerate wort.
  9. Pitch yeast when wort is below 68º.
The original gravity ended up being 1.078 (corrected from 1.076 at 77º). More on this in the next post.

The 4 gallons that I had initially set aside did not cool as quickly as I expected so the wort ended up being about 90º. I left that to cool in the carboy overnight.

I'll be dry hopping an additional 0.7 oz. of hops when fermentation has slowed and I replace the blowoff tube with the airlock.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Batch 2: 'Merican IPA: Ingredients

I picked up the ingredients for my next batch yesterday at 5 Points Growlers Beer & Brew Supply. I converted an all-grain recipe I found online for a clone of Bell's Two Hearted Ale to an extract (with specialty grains) recipe using the trial version of BeerSmith. Here's what I got:
  • 10 lb. – Pale liquid extract
  • 10 oz. – CaraPils grains
  • 4 oz. – Centennial hops
  • 1 packet – Wyeast American Ale II Yeast (#1272)
It's going to be a high-gravity hop-heavy monster of a beer! I can't wait to get started.

By the way, this just needs to be said: it kills me that "Two Hearted Ale" is not hyphenated. Correctly, it should be "Two-hearted Ale." Ugh.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Batch 1: Autumn Amber Ale: Tasting Day

I got to taste my first self-crafted beer. A few people have asked if it was good, and my response has been, "I learned a lot." Seriously, though, I made some mistakes, but the beer isn't terrible. In fact, it's downright drinkable. There is zero head retention, but it was adequately carbonated. It definitely has low alcohol content, but it's full bodied and well balanced. In my haste to taste, I forgot to refrain from pouring the settled yeast into the glass, which added a lot of sour flavor, but it settled out quickly. I'm thinking I'll try to make a Two Hearted clone for my next batch.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Batch 1: Autumn Amber Ale: Bottling Day

After 13 days of fermenting and on-trub conditioning, I bottled my first batch. I made the mistake of failing to measure the temperature of the wort when I measured original gravity (OG 1.030 at ?º), but the final gravity was 1.018 (1.016 at 78º). One equation gave me an estimate of no higher than 1.5% ABV for the final beer, but I'm guessing it's probably closer to 3% ABV (I hope). It smelled delicious, very malty and sweat. The color is darker than I had expected for an amber ale, but I'm wondering if it won't lighten up a bit while conditioning. I ended up with 44 12-oz beers from about 4.5 gallons after racking. Evidently, I lost about 4 bottles worth of beer to spillage while filling the bottles, but I'll get better at that with a little more practice. Now, the wait is on.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Batch 1: Autumn Amber Ale: Fermenting Day 7

So, according to the brewing instruction in my kit from Midwest Supplies, my beer is ready to be bottled, but I'm trying to heed the advice of Charlie Papazian and John Palmer and let the beer condition on the trub for an additional week. The yeast seem to be inactive as there are no bubbles and the temperature has been steadily, but slowly, dropping. I'm expecting a noticeable color change soon as the beer clears. I'm thinking I may have pitched the wort too hot. We'll see.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Batch 1: Autumn Amber Ale: Fermenting Day 2

Well, I was worried that I might have had a stalled, or stuck, fermentation. The regular belching of the blow-off tube in the sanitizer stopped without warning. I didn't see any bubbling at all in the sanitizer so I replaced the blow-off tube with the airlock. That has been bubbling--slowly. On closer inspection, I can still see bubbling on the edge of the carboy, but I'm still a bit concerned that fermentation may have slowed to a crawl. I was set to pitch more yeast, but that was probably premature.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Batch 1: Autumn Amber Ale: Fermenting Day 1

Here is the fermentation about 12 hours out. The activity really is incredible. I am shocked at how effervescent the yeast are.

The sanitizing solution has collected quite a bit of blown off hops and yeast sediment.

Batch 1: Autumn Amber Ale: Brewing Day

Here is the extract kit that came with my brewing kit.

I boiled three gallons of water to add to the wort at the end of the boil. As it turns out, it wasn't enough.

I steeped the specialty grains in a muslin bag for 30 minutes at 155º and then an additional 10 minutes off the burner.

After adding the liquid malt extract, I brought the wort to a rolling boil for 20 minutes to reach the hot break. I ran into trouble using my stainless steel kettle on a flat surface stove burner. It vibrated violently after just a few seconds. I had planned to use a propane burner outside, but rains forced me into the kitchen. Keeping a light touch on the handle of the burner solved the problem but was quite annoying after about three hours of brewing. I boiled the bittering hops for 60 minutes, adding the aroma hops for the final 10 minutes of the boil.

I chilled the wort by first topping it off with a couple gallons of the water I boiled before starting and then immersing the kettle in a bath of water, ice, and salt. Then, I stirred in the dry yeast packet, and siphoned the wort and pre-boiled water into the carboy which only got the liquid level up to base of the curve on the carboy. I scrambled to boil and chill more water. I did my best to shake the carboy to aerate the pitched wort, but I'm going to need to figure out a better way to do this for future batches. Finally, I fixed the blow-off tube to the carboy and sunk the end in sanitizing solution.

  • 6 lb. Gold LME
  • 2 oz. Special B
  • 8 oz. Caramel 80L
  • 2 oz. roasted malt
  • 1 oz. Hallertau hop pellets (bittering)
  • 1 oz. Fuggle hop pellets (aroma)
  • 6 g Muntons dry yeast

Saturday, September 1, 2012

It Begins

Today, I'm soaking bottles to remove the labels. I used two scoops of a sodium percarbonate cleaner (e.g. OxyClean) dissolved in 10 gallons of warm water in a plastic storage bin. It holds about 60 bottles. I'll let it sit overnight and then scrub off any residual paper and glue.

Tomorrow, I plan to start making my first solo batch of beer.