Sunday, January 19, 2014

Batch 7: 'Merican IPA: Primary Fermentation

The fermenting ramped up within 24 hours of pitching, and there was obvious airlock activity for two full days after that. The krausen expanded a day after that. I forgot how much I enjoyed watching fermentation! For that alone, the new 6.5-gallon carboy is worth it. I racked the beer to the 5-gallon carboy for secondary fermentation after 8 days in the primary and measured the specific gravity at 1.017, several points higher than in previous batches. (I would have preferred to rack after four or five days but was busy.) I'm estimating the beer to be at about 7.5% ABV. The sample I took with the thief tasted pretty good, hops up front. The beer is cloudier than previous batches have been, and I'm wondering if this is related to the yeast starter. I dry-hopped an additional 0.67 oz. of the Centennial hops in the secondary in a sanitized mesh nylon bag. I'm planning to let the beer condition for about two weeks before bottling.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Batch 7: 'Merican IPA: Followup on the Yeast Starter

The poor-man's yeast starter seemed to work fine. There were no blowoff issues, and the beer smelled and looked normal. Primary fermentation seems to be going normally, too.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Batch 7: 'Merican IPA: Brewing Day

Here was the program:
  1. Boil 4 gallons of water, and set aside to cool.
  2. Steep 10 oz. of CaraPils in 3 gallons of water for 30 min. at 160º ±10º.
  3. Add 3.3 lb. of pale LME (minus the 2/3 cup used for the starter), and stir till dissolved.
  4. Bring to boil until break (approx. 20 minutes).
  5. Hop.
    1. 0.66 oz. Centennial hops T-60 min.
    2. 0.66 oz. Centennial hops T-45 min.
    3. 0.67 oz. Centennial hops T-30 min.
    4. 0.67 oz. Centennial hops T-15 min.
    5. 0.67 oz. Centennial hops 0 min. for 10 minutes off heat
  6. Add 6.6 lb. of pale LME at knockout, and let stand for 10 minutes.
  7. Chill wort and reserve water with ice bath and frozen water in soda bottles to below 70º.
  8. Add wort to pail, and top off with cooled boiled water to just over 5 gallon-mark (or approx. 3 inches from top of pail).
  9. Measure original gravity.
  10. Pitch Wyeast American Ale II Yeast (#1272) starter.
  11. Aerate the wort by pouring back and forth between sanitized pails.
  12. Siphon into 6.5 gallon carboy primary fermenter, and affix airlock.
  13. Let ferment for two weeks in swamp cooler at 66º ±6º.
The original gravity was 1.062, about 0.01 points lower than expected; however, I'm guessing that the starter accounts for this and will correct the difference. I'll be dry hopping an additional 0.67 oz. of hops at secondary fermentation.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Batch 7: 'Merican IPA: Yeast Starter

When I was at my friendly, local homebrew supply store recently, I was prepared to buy a yeast starter setup (i.e flask, DME, etc.), but the clerk talked me out of it. He suggested two things, first, that the yeast should acclimate to the kinds of sugars that they'll be fermenting in the beer (i.e. LME vs. DME) and, second, that an airlock will put pressure on the yeast by not evacuating the CO2 quickly enough. Admittedly, I'm a bit skeptical, but if his method saves me money, I'm going to give it a go.
  1. Activate yeast packet, and let sit for about 24 hours.
  2. Boil 1500 mL of water with 2/3 cup LME and one hop pellet.
  3. Cool wort in water bath to 70º.
  4. Poor wort into sanitized growler and aerate.
  5. Sanitize packet, and pitch yeast into growler.
  6. Seal loosely with a sanitized piece of aluminum foil.
  7. Let sit for one to three days or until a notable yeast cake flocculates at the bottom.
I'm using a 64 oz. growler. I'm a little concerned that the beer doesn't leave enough room in the growler, but I'll report back on this.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Batch 7: 'Merican IPA: Ingredients

I'm making this one for the annual trip to Gatlinburg. I've brought some investors on board so this batch will be known as "Brad's 'Merican IPA Presented by Cam and Ty."
  • 9.9 lb. – Pale liquid extract ($34.47)
  • 10 oz. – CaraPils grains ($1.12)
  • 4 oz. – Centennial hops ($7.16)
  • 1 packet – Wyeast American Ale II Yeast (#1272) ($7.49)
  • 4 oz. – corn sugar ($0.25)
The total cost after tax was $54.02.

I also took the opportunity to spend some Christmas money on a couple upgrades to my setup, adding a 6.5 gallon glass carboy to replace my brewing pail for primary fermentation and a digital scale. (To be honest, the pocket scale makes me feel like drug dealer--which brings new meaning to the term "hop head." #rimshot)