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.




Monday, October 22, 2018

Bottled the pale ale. Pretty hoppy stuff, but not terribly bitter. There are lots of piney and earthy hops along with a sort of sticky bitterness that coats the tongue. The beer spent just a few hours with the dry hops because I realized that I needed to bottle tonight or I wouldn't be able to bottle until sometime next week. I'm quite pleased with the beer so far, but I wish I had more time to dry hop. Not sure my quick infusion will impart anything.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Brewed again today. I'm on a roll. Driving back home from Matton, Illinois, I stopped at Friar Tuck in Savoy, south Champaign-Urbana. Friary Tuck sells homebrew supplies, so I picked up a Brewer's Best Pale Ale kit, but I substituted the included hops (Lemon Drop and Citra) with Falconer's Flight 7c's. I added one ounce in the boil for 60 minutes and steeped another ounce. I have yet another ounce that I will dry hop with for two days after the initial primary fermentation. I pitched US-05 yeast which so far is fermenting at about 72 degrees F. For those wondering, the Brewer's Best Pale Ale kit includes two cans of pale malt extract and one pound of CaraRed malt (along with aforementioned hops.) The measured gravity was 1.050 and a calculated 38 IBUs.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

So I ended up pitching the Wyeast 3711 dregs that I had in my fridge and that woke up the beer from its stuck fermentation. Yes, I had a stuck fermentation with beer at 1.022 after two weeks. I know the Dupont strain is notoriously slow below 90 degrees F, but it's going to start getting even cooler here soon, so I decided to pitch a helper yeast....and help it did! The airlock started bubbling and stayed that way for about three days. I let it go another week before deciding to bottle tonight. I thought about racking to let it sit a bit longer and mature, but I'm having surgery tomorrow and just wanted it bottled up and in case I have a slow recovery. I tasted just a small bit of beer (no hops before surgery) and I was surprised at the lack of heat considering that I added three tablespoons of crushed black pepper. Perhaps the heat will come out more in the finished product.