Wednesday, April 03, 2019

 Decided to rack the Japanese Sunshine tonight and add two ounces of Lemondrop for aroma. A good call because the hop aroma is barely detectable. So far this beer is quite bitter for the style....almost too bitter, but I suspect that hoppiness will fade. I also goofed in my calculations and the OG is actually 1.056 and 36 IBUs instead of 1.049 and 30 IBUs. A much hoppier beer than I intended but the hydrometer sample tasted good.The hop aroma from Lemondrop should be a nice compliment to the hop bitterness and flavor. This will likely be the hoppiest version of Japanese Sunshine to date.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Took today off of work and decided to brew a warm weather beer -- another version of my recipe that I call Japanese Sunshine. For this version I've kept it basic with three and a half pounds of Briess Golden DME, one and a half pounds of Briess Wheat DME, a pound of rice syrup solids and Sorachi Ace hops. The hops were added at 15 minutes left in the boil and at the end of the boil -- one ounce each. The wort is being fermented with Wyeast 3711 French Saison.  Decided on a four-gallon batch as I shorted myself a bit on DME. (I ended up raiding the pantry for leftover DME.) Chilled the wort to about 90 given the reading on my infrared thermometer. Water from the tap for my chiller was 50 degrees. Wort and water in the fermeter seemed not to mix so gave the fermetner a good shake after pitching the yeast. I have an ounce of Lemon Drop hops that I may dry hop with in the secondary or for a couple days in the primary at the end of fermentation. Also, I've had no problems with the Gigawort since using only DME instead of LME.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

So smoked "bock" got bottled about three weeks after it started fermenting. I didn't bother with two-stage fermentation since I was using an ale yeast afterall. I've tasted the beer after three weeks in the bottle and this point it tastes more bitter than I expected but I think this might have to do with the oak smoked malt accentuating the hop flavors along with the sharp carbonation. In hindsight, I would use just beechwood smoked malt and no oak smoked malt. I would probably also use more smoked malt for more of that bacon and sausage character. That said, I do like the character of the oak smoked malt but I think that's for another beer -- maybe a helles bock or Grodziskie --  and I really want to try brewing a Grodziskie. I tried a Grodziskie for the first time recently and really liked it.

As I'm typing this I'm drinking my dunkelweizen. It comes across drier and a bit thinner than expected but I do like it. It is very carbonated and I think that reinforces the feeling of dryness. I went to a new brewpub last night called Ike and Oak. I really enjoyed their pale ale called Broken Carabiner. I'm not sure if I'll try and brew a clone of that or the Grodziskie next. I really enjoyed the late additions of Mosaic hops in the Carebiner but I think I might still try and get to the's just such a delightfully oddball style.

Monday, February 04, 2019

It's been a week since I brewed the smoked pseudo-bock. Fermentation temperature has been a bit tricky. We had quite a cold snap last week (it got down twenty below zero) so it was too cold by the outside wall (wort temperature got down to 54) so I moved the jacketed fermenter to it's usual spot just outside the kitchen. The temperature came up to 62F but the fan on the Brew Jacket kept running, no doubt due in part to the heat generated from fermentation. Once the cold subised and the daytime temperature rose above freezing I moved the jacketed fermenter back by the doorwall. The temperature for about the first for days of fermentation was 62F but I raised the temperature on the controller to 64F and the beer is now at that temperature. I will probably give it a diacetyl rest at the end of the week and then bottle.

Monday, January 28, 2019

I'm brewing for the second time with the Gigawort today. One of the problems I had the first time with the Gigawort was malt extract sticking to the bottom of the kettle which triggered the "run dry" sensor causing the unit to shutdown. I used dry malt extract (or as the English call it, spray malt) this time and had no problem. (Dry malt exract tends to float instead of sink.) The recipe this time is what I'm calling Campfire Bock. The recipe is six pounds of Muntons Dark DME, one pound of Melanoidin malt, one pound of Weyermann Beechwood smoked malt, one pound of Weyermann Oak smoked malt and a half pound of CaraAroma. The beer is hopped with one ounce of 11.4 percent AA Magnum hops. I'm going to reusing the WLP 300 yeast from the last batch and plan to ferment at 64 degrees to keep the esters low. It should be interesting. I've used peat smoked malt before in a Scotch ale but I've never used rauch malt. I'm curious as to how much smokiness 20 percent smoked malt will offer. I think I can mash up to five pounds of malt in the Gigawort so I probably could make a pretty smoky beer as long as the original gravity isn't too high.

So after writing the above, I started reading more about smoked beers and I'm kind of fascinated with Grodziskie. I'd like to try brewing one someday. Here's a link if you haven't heard of this style before.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Well today was a big day in the history of my homebrewing hobby.

I bought an electric brew kettle last week and after a test run last night of plain water, I decided to brew today. The electric brew kettle is a a Gigawort from Northern Brewer, a four-gallon kettle that operates at 600W and 1600W. The lower setting is used to hold temps while the higher setting is used to keep a rolling (and I do mean rolling) boil going. I chose to brew a dunkleweizen since I haven't brewed that style before (or maybe I did once a long, long time ago.) The recipe was simple: the Brewer's Best Dunkleweizen kit with wheat DME used in place of the maltodextrin.

Although I'm happy to no longer be brewing on the stove, the Gigawort is not without it's problems. Perhaps problems is too strong of a word. It's a finicky unit. The Brewer's Best kit included two cans of LME and it seems to stick to the "run dry" sensor at the bottom of the kettle which caused the temperature controller to register and E4 condition. This E4 error shuts down the heating elements and requires the brewer to push a reset switch underneath the unit, a maneuver that is a bit tedious with the kettle full of hot wort. I had to reset the Gigawort three times before it was able to keep a roiling boil. I also had to shutdown the unit once to prevent a boil over. Despite these issues I was able to complete the boil and cool with my copper immersion chiller. The chilling took about an hour to get the wort down to 63 degrees. I pitched White Labs WLP 300 Hefeweizen yeast and wanted to do a cool ferment at 66 degrees (accomplished using a Brew Jacket) to bring out more of the clove than banana esters. I did not use the dry yeast that came with the kit.

A little more about the Gigawort: it took quite a bit of work to get the bulkhead attached to the kettle. I'm not a very good plumber though, so your mileage may vary. Also, when brewing partial mash beers I will probably stick to using only DME and not LME as I think it would less inclined to stick to the bottom and trigger the "run dry" sensor. One very nice thing about the Gigawort as that it fits under my counter in on of my kitchen cabinets.

Pictured below is the wort temperature detected by the Brew Jacket (the bottom number is the wort temperature and the top number is the thermostat setting.) I later dropped the set temperature to 66. Below that is a picture of the Gigawort in it's new home, a pic of the kettle on my kitchen counter next to the sink and a pic of my test run with the controller showing a 57 degree water temperature and set temperature of 162 for mashing. It ended up holding around 156 which was perfect.