2012 Brewing Goals

I have a bit more lofty brewing goals for 2012 than I did for 2011.
2011 was simple, just brew. No excuses, stop worrying about doing it perfectly, stop fretting about having the right setup. Just get a few batches under my belt, cut my teeth, and make a bad first draft. After spending the year researching and trying to hone my technique I plan on finding my home brewing sweet spot. A style to perfect, and make my own. Something I’m going to want to have in quantity, and something to call the house style or flagship of the bottle Farm. To meet the criteria, it’s gotta be sessionable, flexible, good all year round. The two styles that come to mind are saison or pale ale. So goal 1, is to pick a style and try to brew it right. Continue reading

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Fresh Poured homebrew from my keggerator.

Just thought I’d share a photo of a fresh poured draft. Not too much head, not too clear. Good color, but dark for the recipe. Still tasting a little green. Hopefully the hops will fall out a bit, and the apricot will smooth out.

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Brewing a Clone Kit. AHS’s number 9 extract clone kit.

After a slightly disappointing experience modifying someone else’s recipe, I thought I’d try something a bit more structured to work on the process. I picked something I thought T would like, and would be good for the summer.
Back in May, after things began to settle down from having our second child, I was trying to decide what beer I wanted to brew next. I wanted something that was lower risk than a recipe from the local home brew store. I wanted something T would enjoy, I wanted something enjoyable for the summer. So I decided on ordering a kit from Austin Homebrew supply, I chose a beer that is pretty much non offensive to the average beer drinker, a Magic Hat #9 clone. Something happened, I realized things hadn’t really settled down, and I pretty much missed prime summer brewing season. It wasn’t until two weeks ago, that I managed to get some water boiling, and brew this. Continue reading

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Fermenting Hard Cider

A few firsts. My first Cider fermenting. My first time reusing yeast. Hoping for the best on both accounts.
This is yet another long over due goal. I’ve wanted to make hard cider for a long time. Living where we do within a short drive to numerous orchards of every shape and size the fall smell of fallen apples is amazing. After some brief reading of how to make cider online, I figured it was easy enough to do, that I had to give it a go.
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Recipe:
3 Gallons unpasteurized cider
2 cups turbinato sugar
1/8 tb peptic enzyme
1 campden tablet
Yeast nutrient
600ml yeast / starter

Mix cider w/ sugar, enzyme, and camden. Wait 24 hrs.
Prepare your yeast starter*.
Add yeast to cider, and ferment at 70ish for 2-3 weeks. Rack off lees, cold crash, serve. Enjoy.
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If only it were that simple. So, what really happened? As I was fermenting the cider, I’d yet to really establish proper fermentation control, so it pogo’d as the crazy fall weather went from 65 to 35 and back. It went through a phase where it seemed very dmsy, or even sulfery. When it came time to stop the fermentation. Because of a bit of a mix up with my temperature controller, I didn’t have any means to actually cold crash the cider, or stop fermentation when there was still some natural sugar left. I figured it would be ok to just let roll. I was wrong. I did decide to carb it at low pressure (5psi at 40*) to see how it tasted subtly carbonated. It turned very dry, and w/out any sweetness. I decided to take a bold step and back sweeten w/ 1/2 can of grape concentrate, and to recarb. While it recarbed just fine, the cider isn’t very good. Described as ‘earthy’ and winey by the the brave souls I shared it with.

Plan for next time? I’m sure there are recipe tweaks I could do, but I think it comes down to two things. I need to be less hesitant to stop fermentation. Even if that means heat pasteurizing. Anything to keep that zing and sugar of a cider. Also, I’m going to do more research, perhaps try to pick the brain of Steve Woods of Farnum hill to get a better understating where my process has failed.

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Brewing Over Maple

This is my Brew plan  / Log. I start with the recipe pasted onto a blank sheet, and put down the basic steps, which outlines my plan. Once I’ve started brewing I copy that plan, and make notes on anything I’ve overlooked, screwed up. Noting what worked and things to do better next time. Here’s a cleaned up plan / log. I’m posting this to show you what in my log. If you log something I don’t. I’d be interested in hearing it.

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Brew Log 2/19/11
Made yeast starter
Boil 3 c water
cool 1 c to suspend yeast.
Make wort with 2c + 1/2c dme
Wait 30, add cooled wort to Yeast.
Wait 24 hrs.
Yeast was active and settled w/in 24hrs

2/20
Bagged grains
Started  2g water in pot, put grains in pot.
Set timer for 45
Missed 170, Grains got hotter than 170, I assume this will cause off / acrid taste/ over extraction.
put 3g cold water in 6g carboy
After 45 mins of 150-170, remove grains
Added LME, Maple 3 lbs, Malto dextrin, Brought to low boil.
Managed to avoid boil overs!
12:30 boil started & added 1oz Centenial A8.7
Cleaned chiller in sink, Added full ice maker of ice to sink.
Prepared sink to run the wort chiller.
Cleaned bottles
20 mins left added 1 tsp of Irish Moss
0m Remove from heat.
Added chiller
Placed pot in sink with ice.
Start chiller.
Chilled to 70, in 10m.
Moved to 6g carboy, lots of sediment filtered.
Toped to 5g w/ ¾ gallon of water.
Pitch started yeast. 500ml
agitated wort and yeast to mix thoroughly.
Placed in corner, add air lock.
Temp measured 64 on side of carboy.
pitched at 64 at 1:54pm.
Starting gravity w/ yeast starter, 1058 w/out calculating SG correction

Monday 2/21 Obvious fermentation has started; airlock bubbling away
Monday 2/21 Evening, had to swap airlock for blow off hose and jar due to such rapid fermentation.
Fermentation temp measured 67/68 on side of carboy.

Wednesday 2/23
Replaced airlock
Measured SG 1028 @67 w/out SG correction
Tasted SG Sample, not bad sweet and boozy.

thursday / friday
Checked temp, and it was down to 64/65

Saturday 2/26
Measured SG 1018 @65 w/out SG correction

Tuesday 3/1
Measured SG 1014 @64 w/out SG correction
Tasted, it tasted good, a little sweet, looks really dark brown, auburn. Decent mouth feel.
Racked to secondary, I’m seeing some outgassing again, so this should bring SG down even further.
Yeast isn’t cleaned yet, but I prepped water for yeast washing.

bottling 8pm 3/13/
FG
1011 @ 67
25 22oz bottles (one busted / top came off)
4 12oz
4.67 gallons bottled
Used 5oz maple syrup for priming.

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My First Brew day

2am Maiden Amarillo American Wheat
These are the notes from my first batch of beer. For my first beer I brewed a true brew American wheat kit.
I’ve wanted to homebrew beer for a long time. I’ve even owned most of the equipment for a few years. What’s been keeping me from getting it done? I suffer from perfection paralysis, I’m not a perfectionist, but with some projects, I can’t seem to get off the ground until things are just right.
I finally had enough inertia to make the leap this past Monday, and all it took was getting a copy of the complete Joy of Home brewing. It’s funny that after reading the first few chapters of the book, I had enough confidence to get going. It’s rare the that a intro book is this good, if you want to try home brewing, this book will get you started no question. 

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The beer I’m brewing is based on the True Brew american wheat extract kit, but I didn’t brew it exactly as it was in the box. I changed the boil time, the hop variety, quantity, and addition times. Those are the changes I intended. I have also made some changes that I did not intend, aka mess ups. I had a boil over, a few unintentional flame outs, I didn’t read the instructions on my yeast, and I had a cooling problem. All of these were just inconveniences and shouldn’t significant’y impact the beer. Or as they say, opportunities to learn. The good news, is that when I checked the airlock the next morning, it was bubbling away. I’d made beer! There are a few more steps to complete, days of fermentation, dry hopping, bottling and bottle conditioning before it’s ready for drinking, but I have made my first batch of beer.
So what’s next? I’m going to follow the standard home brewing progression. I started with an extract kit, I plan to move on to extract and specialty grain brewing, and eventually making own recipes once I can follow a recipe well. Some day (when I’ve got a lot of free time) I’d like to try all grain brewing. I plan on brewing another batch as soon as I bottle this one, because I know my time afterwards will be limited. If anyone has recipe recommendations, or suggestions on an appropriate style of beer for me to brew I’d gladly take them into consideration. This first batch is going to be a light and hoppy american wheat beer. I’m thinking this next batch should be something appropriate for spring, bonus points for utilizing season appropriate ingredients.
This leaves one question for you. What’s been lingering on your list for a while that will be crossed off next? What will it take to get you to pull the trigger?

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