Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Well, I'm red ale turned out okay, but I'm having stovetop issues. I think that all my years of brewing are taking a toll on my electric stove. I'm trying to decide if I want to go induction or just continue taking a break from the hobby. I seem to hav less and less time these days. I don't even cook as much as I used to do. I blame it on being in a new job and being on the road most of the week which is a new lifestyle for me.

So, the Eastchester Red, the last beer I brewed is a little off the mark in terms of bitterness. This is no doubt due to the burner quitting on me during the boil. I'm not sure exactly at what point the burner quit, but I'm guessing I boiled my hops for 35 minutes instead of 60. That said, the beer is not a complete disaster. It is a bit of a malt-forward beer but the bitterness does balance it just enough. The use of amber malt really seems to have added the coffee character that some people describe along with a profoundly robust and deep caramel malt flavor. The other thing I've noticed with this batch is that the carbonation takes a while to integrate into the beer. I have to chill the bottles for several days in the back of fridge to the carbonation to calm down, but it is eventually perfect. The batch before this one was an alt and that is holding up quite well, although it seems a little plain, as it is not quite as bitter as I would or that malt forward. A very balanced, if not boring beer, but one with no other flaws and very clean.

Part of me would like to brew again, but I just don't trust my stove anymore, and I'm having a difficult time finding parts for it. Another part of me wants to go ahead and try induction. I should probably just fix the damn stove.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

I brewed a red ale last Thursday as I said I would, but the recipe changed. This happens sometimes. I get to the homebrew shop and realize I have forgotten my notes and make it up as I go based on the ingredients I can find. In this case, I decided to go with two cans of Munton's Maris Otter liquid malt extract, along with one pound of Weyermann CaraAroma and one pound of Torrefied Wheat. I stuck with the Wyeast 1318. I did a partial mash with these grains and added one ounce of Willamette pellets for bittering along with copious amounts of homegrown Chinook hops. I added these whole hops towards the end of the boil since I was unsure of their bitterness. I added ounce ounce of the Chinooks at 5 minutes left in the boil and steeped four ounces as the wort chilled for about 35 minutes. I expect this beer to a fairly full body with a moderate to intense hop aroma and flavor without being very bitter. Active fermentation started about 72 hours after pitching the yeast. I  chilled the wort down to 77 degrees but the tap water I added to top off the fermenter was so cold that it brought the temperature of the wort down to 58 which I felt was too warm cold for the yeast. I chilled the yeast packet in my fridge for about and hour and a half and checked the temperature of the packet with my infrared thermometer it was 65, about the wort was 62 and I went ahead and pitched. It took about two days for the temperature to raise to 68. It eventually rose to 72, at which point I decided to put the fermenter in my BrewJacket to prevent the temperature from rising outside of the recommended range for the yeast. Since then, I've been impressed at how hard the fan on the immersion chiller has run to hold the temperature at 72. My guess is that yeast is very active and generating a lot of heat.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

I opened my freezer today and realized I have several ounces of Chinook hops from my friend Eric Keeley, so the next beer I brew will be a hoppy red ale. My love for hoppy reds started with a few different beers. The first hoppy red ale I encountered was either Jamaica Red Ale from Mad River or St. Rogue Red (and it's hoppier version Santa's Private Reserve) from Rogue. I spent a lot of time several years ago trying to craft a clone of St. Rogue Red and I have to say I got pretty close. I made water adjustments and found pretty much all the same grains that Rogue used at the time (this was about 10 years ago.) Some of those grains are no longer available now, not to mention that the recipe has changed. Later on I came across a beer called Panama Red brewed by Flossmoor Brewing Co. in Flossmoor, Illinois but I think the recipe has changed as it has only 28 IBUs of bitterness. I remember it being very hoppy several years and a couple brewmasters ago. I really like Chinook hops in a red ale. The flavor of these hops tends to marry well with caramel, roasted and toasty malts. I'm not sure if Chinooks are in Panama Red but I know they're used in Jamaica Red and St. Rogue Red. So the next beer I brew will be a hoppy red ale with homegrown hops. Here's the partial mash recipe I will be using for this hoppy red:


  • One 3.3 lb can of Briess LME
  • Three pounds of Munich malt
  • One pound of Briess 120L crystal malt
  • 12 HBUs of Chinook hops for 60 minutes
  • 36 HBUs of Chinook hops steeped for 30 minutes
  • Ferment at 68F with Wyeast 1318

Monday, January 18, 2016

Control Alt Delete Bottled

I work with computers, so when I make an Altbier, I usually name it Control ALT Delete. I just finished bottling my latest Altbier. This time it is simply the Brewer's Best Altbier kit, except I substituted an ounce of Magnum hops (12% AA) instead of Willamette to up the IBUs and fermented with Wyeast 1010. I did a primary ferment for seven days at 65F and a secondary ferment at 55F for 20 days. At bottling time this evening the beer exhibited a very pleasant clean, malty nose with very subtle hints of Hersbrucker with a fairly assertive bitterness. The caramel malt mingles well with the peppery hop. I'm quite pleased so far. I might try my hand at more northern interpretation of the style (darker) or I might do a French country ale.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Let's start again

Starting this blog back up after a hiatus -- more for my own selfish purposes  -- rather than to be truly informative. I've been using Beersmith to keep track of my recipes for many years now and somehow I've ended up with so many recipe files I can't keep them straight. Moving the app from PC to PC over the years seems to have created this problem. I've reinstalled the app a few times but I keep all my databases in my Dropbox. I'm thinking this is why I've propagated so many recipe database files. So, I'm finding myself referencing this blog for information on past recipes.

Here's a quick recap of what I've been doing.

A few months ago I purchased a Brewjacket Immersion. This is a chiller that I've started using with my bucket fermenters. I've had pretty decent results so far. I have a batch going right now that is an altbier that I plan to lager for a couple weeks at 58 degrees. I'm hesitant to drop it down too much more than that as I'm worried that too much yeast will drop out of suspension. I am using Wyeast 1010 though which is a pretty low flocculator, so I probably shouldn't worry. I've dropped the temperature down to 58 after seven days of primary fermentation, which might be rushing it, we'll see.

In the past several months I've also brewed a couple saisons, a pale ale, a cherry stout and what I'm calling an American bitter (English malts and American hops.) I've had a lazy habit (redundant?) of picking up Brewer's Best kits lately and tweaking them instead of designing recipes from scratch. I did this with the Cherry Stout (used the Milk Stout kit as a base), the pale ale and the altbier I have fermenting right now. I still have some of the Wee Heavy and Wild Pale Ale I keep referring to as Near Wild Heaven." I'm enjoying a glass of the Near Wild Heaven now. It has an amazing apple pie character to it all derived from five different yeasts that I added throughout fermentation. I need to do something like it again, but right now I'm obsessed with temperature control using the BrewJacket. I was hoping it would be cold winter so I could really push the temperature down. I live in a third floor condominium and the ambient room temperature averages between 68 and 75 depending on the season. I've used an infrared thermometer to find the coolest spots in the room. The coolest spot is unsurprisingly a corner near the sliding glass door to or balcony. I had the fermenter located there for the primary ferment and the temperature ranged between 66 and 70 without using the BrewJacket. Why was I not using the Brewjacket you ask? Because old numbskull misplaced the power supply. I ordered a replacement and have my altbier fermenting at 62 currently down from 70 about 10 hours ago. Look to Twitter for updates on the fermentation of this beer. More on some other beers I've brewed later.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Lots o' beer

So...I'm way behind on my blogging. I have about eight cases of homebrew right now. The inventory includes a case of Wee Heavy, a case or so of Wild Pale Ale (think Orval), a case or so of bitter, about a case and a half of blood orange Belgian-style IPA, a case of Belgian-style Pale Ale, a case of saison from last summer and two gallons of saison that needs to be bottled.
I should bottle tonight but we're expecting some bad weather. So, I'm waiting for said weather while sitting out on my balcony sipping some of the saison from last year. It's very flowery and has a very delicate peach/strawberry fruitiness. I used exclusively Huell Melon hops so I suspect that's why. It's also my first saison with dry yeast. The Belle Saison from Danstar. It's certainly dry enough but not as ├╝ber dry as some of my saisons. Looking back at the recipe I probably could have added some sugar. It certainly gets better as it warms up.
This is not the case for my newest saison that has lavender, black pepper, grains of paradise, star anise and coriander in it. (Less than quarter teaspoon each.) This saison should be nice and dry and cleaned up as it's sat in the fermenter for at least a month now.
Perhaps later in the evening I'll have a blood orange IPA, which does not have much orange character, but is very hoppy as I used four ounces each of Zythos and Falconer's Flight 7C's hops all built on a bed of Munich malt and fermented with Wyeast 3522 Belgian Ardennes. It is very delicious and a touch strong at 7.2 percent, so perhaps I'll take it easy and have some 21st Ammendment Down to Earth.