Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Brew #113: Double Chocolate Stout

As I brewed this one, I was able to enjoy a couple pints of my current double chocolate raspberry stout on beergas. Mmmmm, cascading nitrogen bubbles... I'm getting this one going so that I might have an entry for the Dixie Cup but also to be able to bring the keg. I've been thinking that I might try some orange extract and see how that one tastes. I also want some Marzipan stout. TO get that I might just split the batch in half and have both flavors.

Normally I don't use dish soap on any beer equipment but after brewing with the chocolate - I used a 62% Cacao ScharffenBerger bar this time - every thing gets a bit oily. The cocoa butter comes out first in the primary fermentation and floats like butter on the top. I scoop as much as I can off the top when racking and try to leave most behind. By the time it gets to the keg, most of the oils are gone. In previous kegs, it seems that oils stick to the sides and as you drink it down, the beer gets better head retention.

I did a quick starter on it. That is where the starter is made just before brewing and only has about 4-5 hours to bud and start eating some maltose. By the time I pitched, I didn't see any activity. Still, the airlock was moving nicely on the next day.

Brewed: 08-17-2009
Racked: 0?-??-2009
Kegged: 0?-??-2009



Brew #112: Flander's Brown Ale

My dive buddy Dave brought over a Flander's Brown for us to brew and sadly his batch got something wild that I had in my Turbodog or we just took it off of the yeast too soon. We had acetaldehyde (green apples) in the aroma and taste. Overwhelmingly so. That batch had another yeast starter pitched into it to see if more yeast would be able to finish the beer out a bit and convert the acetaldehyde into ethanol and get rid of the green apple-y flavor. It has done quite a bit, but it was still a sour beer. Too sour. Next path to save that one is to brew it again and get it clean this time. Then I can blend with the original batch to taste. Reading up on Flander's Browns has them at a touch sour but not as much as a Flander's Red.

I even played with my refractometer on this batch and showed the touch over 16% brix.

Brewed: 08-11-2009
Racked: 0?-??-2009
Kegged: 0?-??-2009



Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Brew #111: Eleventy-One Pale (or Nierra Sevada Pale)

This is a West Coast Pale (like Sierra Nevada) in which I used up some hops that weren't totally sealed and I woke up some WLP001 yeast that I harvested in January. We'll have to see what 6 months in the refrigerator do to it. Tasted pretty good at racking. Did a three day primary then dumped in an extra 3/4 ounces of Cascades for another 3-4 days dry hop then racked into secondary.

Brewed: 07-23-2009
Hopped: 07-27-2009 (0.75 oz. Cascade added to primary after most primary fermentation done.)
Racked: 07-30-2009
Kegged: 0?-??-2009



Brew #110: Spiced Holiday Ale

It's time to get this one going so that the spices can tone down a bit and smooth out by the time the holidays are upon us. I think most of the times before I dumped all spices and trub into the primary to let the flavor really get into the beer. This time, I ran it all through the strainer. I'm sure that the strainer will catch the ginger and cloves and maybe the nutmeg and cinnamon would get through. Fine by me as I don't really like the clove flavor that much.

Brewed: 07-22-2009
Racked: 07-30-2009
Kegged: 0?-??-2009



Brew #109: Czech Pilsner #2

Batch #106 was modeled after a recipe that I made over ten years ago. It used Galena hops for bittering weighing in at 13% Alpha Acid. I may actually get better hop utilization these days because I do late additions for lighter colored brews like this one. Only after I tasted that one from the keg did I get the way too bitter flavor and went to my Beer Tools Pro program to work out the recipe. A Bohemian Pilsner should run in the 35-45 IBUs and mine hit 54. This batch is intentionally under-bittered to be able to blend that batch into something drinkable. I am targetting 22-24 IBUs. When I blend, I can make one batch a touch more bitter and the other will be a touch more sweet.

I made a quick starter of a Kolsch Ale yeast (because I don't lager and that yeast is rather clean finishing) - that is, the starter was made just before I started to get the water going for the brew. This starter only gets 4-5 hours to get going before it will be dumped into the wort.

I'm also toying with water chemistry a touch. 15 ltrs R/O water mixed with 9 ltrs filtered Austin water treated with 1/4 campden tablet to remove chloramines. Take 12 ltrs to steep and add 1/2 tsp Calcium Chloride and 1/2 tsp Phosphoric Acid to this steeping water only.


4.5 lb Bohemian Pilsner Malt
0.25 lb Cara-Pils Malt
0.25 lb Caramunich Malt
5.0 lb Extra Pale Extract

1.1 oz Saaz @ 60 mins
0.5 oz Saaz @ 15 mins
0.8 oz Saaz @ 5 mins

White Labs WLP029 German Ale/Kolsch yeast

The packet of hops were US Saaz reporting 5.8% AA.

I've blended the two batches at 60/40 and 40/60 and have trouble deciding which I like better. The more bitter one has more of the "bite" that I like from Pilsner Urquell. The other is a bit more malty and seems clearer too.

Brewed: 06-08-2009
Racked: 06-15-2009
Kegged: 07-16-2009



Brew #108: Hoppy Red Ale

The Austin Zealots Inquisition is coming up and this year's special category is the "Nectar of the Beast" where you have to have three items with 6's in them. This one has 6 malts, and OG of 1.067, and uses White Labs WLP862 yeast (Papazian's Cry Havoc Strain). Amarillo, Nugget, and Challenger hops with Nugget and Challenger dry hop.

Brewed: 05-27-2009
Racked: 06-08-2009
Kegged: 07-08-2009



20090804 - Time to catch up

I've not posted anything lately. It just means I've been having fun brewing and drinking the beer instead of writing about it. I did get to attend the National Homebrewer's Conference in Oakland. Many good beers, lots of things learned. I think the most worthwhile one for me was a session on cleaning and sanitizing. It's a subject that I needed to learn more about.

I've had a run of three batches that didn't turn out as expected. First, an Abita TurboDog clone came out with a touch of green-apple-y flavor. I've decided to try to save it by taking that sourness and boosting it to lambic-ness. I've dumped in tart cherries and we'll see what that does. Next, I had a Kolsch that got phenolics in it - the antiseptic or plastic flavor. I *know* it can't be from chloramines or chlorine. I took a mix of R/O and filtered water and treated it with potassium metabisulphate. My phenolics must have been produced by the fermentation. Instead of the normal fermentation in the 72-74F closet, I tried controlling the temp by sticking the fermenter in a water bath and throwing in ice every so often. I did achieve lower temps but the variance went from 65F to 70F. Last, my friend Dave brought over a Flander's Brown recipe for us to brew together. This one got green-apple-y again and I suspect that I used the same secondary as the TurboDog. Well, green apple indicates acetaldehyde which is a precursor to ethanol - the yeast didn't finish before I racked away. This one got a new starter of yeast back into it to see if they could fix the problem.

I have had some successes though. I've mixed a too-bitter Czech Pilsner with a too-sweet one to come up with my 6040 and 4060 Czech Pilsners. One is a touch more bitter and the other is a touch more sweet/malty. I go back and forth on which I like better.

I've brewed my Holiday Spiced ale in prep for the Halloween/holiday season. The house smells like gingerbread for a few days. I really have to say that PBW works wonders. I soaked the primary for a bit and it come out spotless with no other scrubbing. (Yes, you shouldn't scrub your plastic buckets, but I've been scrubbing them long before I knew better. I'll just keep scrubbing until I replace the buckets.)

On the cleaning side, I've been working through the entire list of equipment with a PBW soak, a rinse-rinse-rinse, and a sanitize. I should be able to kill off anything wild and get down to producing the clean beers like normal.

Austin Zealot Inquisition picnic is coming up on Saturday Aug. 8. Woohoo!!!