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.
The next goal dove tails with this, it’s to enter my beer into a home brew competition. After I’ve honed the beer a bit, perhaps worked out the kinks, I’d like to have something worth entering to a competition. This will be a great way to get unbiased feedback, insight into the flaws in my beer and hopefully some suggestions on improvements.
The third goal is to step up to partial mash brewing. I started with a simple extract recipe, followed it up with extract and steeping speciality grains. The next logical step is to partial mash. I don’t have the gear or the time to go all grain. Despite what Gordon Strong thinks, you can brew some pretty good extract beer, if you put your mind to it. There are so many more variables I’ve yet to control, that worrying about adding complicated mashing / sparging processes to my brew day at this point will only cause more problems than allow me to make better beer.
My last goal is a serious stretch. I’d like to spend a day helping a brewer at a professional brewery. To see their process, and see how things work on a bigger scale. I don’t have connections to any brewers yet, so I’m hoping to leverage
social media to make some friends and see what can happen. I’ve been told most small craft brewers can always use some extra help (manual labor), so maybe someone will take me up on the offer.

Fresh Pour

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.

Brewing a 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.
In order to brew the best beer possible, you need to use the freshest stuff possible. The delay may cause two issues with the beer.  My extract was at least 6 months old. While I stored it cool, I’m sure it’s age could produce the dreaded extract twang, as well as a much darker beer color. The second issue is with yeast health. I purchased wlp 002 (British Ale yeast) for the beer. I even purchased the ice pack with it for when it was shipped, to ensure it arrived in tip top shape. However, all brewing yeast’s viability decreases rapidly over time, so this yeast was questionable. To mitigate at least one of the issues I made a yeast starter, to build up the viable cells to ensure proper fermentation. Even making a starter, using mr malty’s calculator I need way more yeast than I pitched.
With those caveats, I set of to brew my 3rd batch of beer, my 4th fermented beverage.
The good news is, with one or two other exception my brew process worked pretty well, and avoiding those issues in the future should be pretty easy. Without further rambling, here’s the brew log.

This is the first batch I made inside on the stove.
Made 1l starter two days before.
Added 2.5 g water to brew kettle (5g)
Heat at high until 140.
Then I steeped 1/2 lb Crystal 60 & 1/2 lb 2 row for 1.5 hrs.
Removed grain & fed to chickens.
Set heat to high and brought to boil.
Didn’t remove from heat to add extract. * Bad idea, next time, take off heat, to avoid scorching.
Brought to easy / light boil (boil harder next time).
Add 1st addition 22g cascade 5%AA
boil 45m
2nd addition 16g cascade 5%AA & whiflock & yeast nut capsule.
*Note to self open capsule before adding to boiling wort, it’s not soluble.
5m, add 3rd addition 18g cascade 5%AA
Chill using immersion chiller. (8 minutes 200->70)
*Did not wait. Next time wait and let trub settle. Also Chill below target pitching temp.
Moved to basement & transferred to 6.5 g carboy.
Had to filter remove hop and other stuff from wort.
Shook to mix top off with boiled wort.
Measured SG at 68 1020, this was wrong, so I remixed, and took SG again, Measured SG 1052 at 68 (.0009 adjustment) 1.053
Pitched yeast slurry from starter.

11/29/11 Measured SG 1052 (uncorrected) at 10pm
Temp at 70 on carboy.

12/1/11 Measured SG at 70 1024 (.0011 correction) @1pm  

12/2/11 Temp at 69 on Carboy Friday @8pm
Fermentation seems to have visibly slowed. I increased the temp on the swamp heater.

12/3/11 It now seems to be holding 70ish. Still visible fermentation activity, but very slow airlock activity.
SG @ 70 1012-14 + 0.0011 (correction)  so 1013-15 current sg.
Will crank up one more notch tomorrow for 2-3 days.

SG @71/2 1010 + .0013 (correction)

12/10/11 Kegged, added 3-4 oz apricot extract and forced carbonated at 10psi, targeting 2.3 volumes.

Summary -
The beer is still pouring green and a bit slick. Most likely from yeast settling in the keg, and using a full length dip tube. It’s drinking ok, I bet it’ll be better in a few weeks. It better be good, I’ve got close to 5g in the Keg waiting to drink. I had initially thought about saving and washing this yeast, but it really makes no sense, because it was stressed to begin with, and you really want the best healthy yeast possible, and the best fermentation. While my fermentation was good, it was still a littler higher temp than I wanted, and that yeast age is a serious question.
Yeast is cheap, I’ll try to wash it next time.