Brewing log

American Amarillo Wheat take 2

I finally got a chance to put the fresh Amarillo hops to use. When I picked up the hops at A&G homebrew I also picked up some DME. I had everything else on hand for a batch, except yeast, a slight oversight on my part. Thankfully one of my fellow home brewers from Brew free or Die was willing to share half a yeast cake of Wyeast 1968 London ale. This is the same strain of yeast I used for my first home brew.
I made a starter from the pitch, not so much for yeast growth, but to wake up the yeast. Since it had been dormant for a little while. My goal with this beer is to improve upon my hoppy amarillo wheat recipe, to be closer 3floyds famous Gumball head. The recipe is similar to the original 2am Maiden, but targeting less bitterness, with more flavor and aroma. Recipe changes include swapping out liquid malt extract in favor of dry malt extract. I also did a full volume boil, but the most significant change is the hop schedule. I started with nugget and warrior hops for bittering, but replaced all the other original hop additions (45,30,15,0) with a single addition of 1 pound of fresh amarillo hops at 15m. Other process changes included skimming the boil, which I was inspired by the mad fermentationist to do. I figure I do it with soups when cooking why not with beer?

The brew day went ok, but as usual I’m having a few process miscues. I have sorted out my boil volume issues, I overshot boil volume a little, but that’s ok for this beer. Hop & trube issues are still a problem. I installed the dip tube, but did not get any filter to prevent the whole hops from blocking the tube. I tried fruitlessly to clear the tube, but I eventually had to pour the wort into the fermentor.
It has been in the swamp heater since sunday afternoon, and was happily blowing off Monday evening. While I’d ideally ferment at a lower temperature, like 65, I’ve been starting beers at 67, and using additional thermal mass to slow temp rise, but also using a fish tank heater to keep the temp from falling once peak fermentation has slowed and temps start to fall. The beer is now sitting at 70, and is slowly bubbling away, It’s nearly ready for dry hopping. I’m not quite sure what I’m going to dry hop with. After the hop floaties I had with the Alpha King Clone, I’m leaning toward whole hops. For the ultimate recipe I’d really like to stick with amarillo, because I’m a huge fan of it’s flavor profile. However the whole leaf hops I have on hand are, Citra, Cascade and magnum. I will definitely use Cascade, choosing between Citra whole leaf and amarillo pellets. I like citra but not as much as I love amarillo. I’ll update when I put it on tap and post a tasting review.

Brewing AHS Gold Seal Oatmeal Stout

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. While at the home brew shop picking up the final pieces for the keggerator, I decided to buy liquid yeast. After getting home the yeast was already a little swelled, so I burst the activator with the intention of brewing that evening brew. By the time I was ready to brew, rain was eminent. Once again, I’m left with slightly less optimal yeast. Having to postpone I cleaned stuff and prepped for tonights brew night. Which lead to a funny conversation with T about how much time I spend cleaning stuff for brewing, and how little I spend cleaning other things .

Tonights brew plan:
Put 2 in brew pot.
Increase temp to 158.
Add grain, and steep at 155 for 25.
Fill up swamp warmer w/ water.
Fill 5g pot w/ rest of water to top of boil kettle.
Gather rest of ingredients.
Remove steeped grains and feed to chickens.
Top up water to 5.49 gal.
Add DME while bringing to a boil.
Boil 60 Minutes
@0 add 3/4 oz nugget.
@50 add 1/4 tsb irish moss
@50 add chiller
@60 Stir to whirlpool.
Commence Chilling immediately.
Chill to 65 or as close to as possible.
Transfer to carboy.
Aerate while bringing wort to basement.
Take SG reading.
Set in water bath set at 68.
Some things went ok, like hitting temps and times for steeping and hops.
There are some things I’m still struggling with, cooling, trube, and boil volumes.
I missed my post boil volume significantly, and transferred a ton of crap when I went to primary because I wasn’t able to cool effectively, w/out stirring up a ton of trube.

Things I’ll do different next time.
Steep in 5g pot to allow warming extract and water during steeping time.
Either filter trube, or chill more patiently.

All in all, no fatal flaws, and I hope it turns out well, as we’ll have guests trying it labor day.

First Brew

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. 

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?

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.

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

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

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.
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.
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.

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.