Quick book review: Brewing Made Easy

This is a quick review of a really quick read. I like to check out any brewing book that crosses my path in the hopes of unearthing something new. I spotted this book, Brewing Mad Easy (2nd edition) by Joe Fisher and Dennis Fisher at my local library. It is a short book intend to ease you into home brewing. I think the format of quick easy steps to brewing is a good way to approach brewing. I have likened it to writing, putting down a first draft, before you can improve upon it. You have to get a beer into a fermentor before it makes sense to try to tackle more details in the brewing process. It’s a good approach. My gripe about the book, that they seemed to perpetuate some inaccuracys that I’d think would no longer be in a modern book, top vs bottom fermenting, the use of secondary. In addition, they really gloss over hop usage, late additions, etc. All in all if the book gets someone brewing beer it’s not bad. However for my money, I’d buy either the Complete Joy of Homebrewing, or How to Brew by John Palmer. If you are a detail oriented person, How to Brew, if you are a laid back, less detail driven person, Joy.

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With that said, the book is extremely approachable. I enjoyed my hour or two reading it, and appreciated the small section on small batches, which I feel like is a lost brewing practice. Beyond being a good quick start guide, I feel the book won’t get you much beyond your first few batches, where the other getting started books have much greater depth and value to them, while not being too complicated to lose you in the process.

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HomeBrewing roundtable part 1: Getting to know the brewers

This series of posts will be different than all the others posted so far. This is a roundtable of homebrewers. I’ve asked them some questions about how they got started, and to provide some recommendations on getting started, and about some mistakes the’ve made along the way. They are from all experience levels, both coasts, and even from our neighbor up north. One thing we all have in common is we are all homebrewers, and we all had to start somewhere. This series of questions is designed to help would be brewers break the ice, and get brewing. It’s good to hear how we got started, the gear, recipes, tips, and of course the mistakes we have made. I plan be doing these as an on going series of conversations about topics useful to have a breadth of perspectives on. I’ll start part 1 of the Q&A with an introduction to the participants and how they got started brewing. Continue reading

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Some tips for homebrewing on the cheap.

bulk hops

Home brewing is a hobby you can start with a small investment in equipment ($150 or less) and make beer. At that point the biggest investment is the per batch cost. When brewing extract patches the fixed costs cost to brew are low, but the per batch cost is much higher. Continue reading

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Homebrew Tasting Notes: AHS Oatmeal Stout

ahs gold seal oatmeal stout

This is the first stout I’ve brewed, and I’m not really a big stout drinker, so I’m not sure this is a very qualified review this, but I’ll give it a go.
This is a very thick, rich stout. It has plenty of residual sugar, finishing at 1.018 will do that to you.

As you can see from the photo there isn’t much head. Continue reading

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Brewing AHS Gold Seal Oatmeal Stout

Dark brew night

In my prior project update I mentioned the all grain setup, but I had this Oatmeal stout extract kit I purchased from Austin Homebrew Supply that I need to brew. I have told T I would brew her a beer for quite some time, and she enjoys stouts. I also picked this specific kit because it was shelf stable. I wanted to make sure I had something I could be ready to brew anytime, that wouldn’t suffer from sitting around until I had time to brew. I was hoping to brew Saturday evening, but the weather conspired against me. 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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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

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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