Homebrew Tasting Notes: AHS 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.
Not super dark, but certainly not the mid brown that you’d expect by the coloring from Beersmith. It’s what I’d consider a standard oatmeal stout.I can taste the bitterness from the grains that escaped from the steeping bag, and were boiled. Actually not bad for this style. I’m pretty sure it would have finished lower, and less thick had I hit my expected volumes during transfer.
The ultimate question is would I brew this beer with this recipe, or would I change it up, and if so what changes would I make. Well, I think I might even change this batch in the keg by tossing in a vanilla bean, and a pint of cold brewed coffee. This will thin it out a bit, and add some complexity. Otherwise, I’m satisfied with the stout.

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 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.