Sunday, November 29, 2020

The brown ale has been bottled. It was a bit of a troublesome brew as my Wyeast 1318 packet turned out to be a dud. There was no change in gravity after three days, so I pitched a packet of Safale S-04 that I happened to have on hand in case of emergency. Fermentation kicked off about 24 hours later. The fermentation temperature was 64F for the first five days of and then I raised the temperature to 68F upon noticing that the gravity was stalled at 1.012. Raising the temperature and rousing the yeast seemed to get one more degree of fermentation out of it. I bottled four days later as the gravity did not change. At bottling time the beer was drier than expected. My Tilt hydrometer reported the ABV as 4.46 percent. A very gentle brown ale along the lines of the old formulation for Newcastle (not the current version brewed at Lagunitas.) The Tilt spreadsheet for this recipe (Brewer's Best Brown Ale kit) is here.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Brewing a brown ale tonight. A British brown ale fermented with Wyeast London Ale III (#1318), a liquid yeast alternative to the Brewer's Best Kit that I bought. Yes, sometimes I just want to brew from a kit. There's nothing really that wrong with the Fermentis S-04 yeast that comes with the kit, but I like the London Ale III as it does well up to 74 degrees and since I'm brewing in a new environment I want a little leeway in terms of temperature. I started renting an apartment for work and play last year and although it has turned out to be more of a work space than I originally intended (thanks coronavirus), I've also decided to move the home brewery. I think my first batch was a brown (isn't everybody's?) and since it feels a bit like starting over, I decided to brew a brown. 

Meanwhile, I've cracked open a bottle of the porter that I brewed several months ago and it is still quite good. A fine aroma of toasted malt and chocolate with more chocolate on the palate and surprising dryness. Hops kept very much in check for more of an English-style porter. This porter is just shy of sweet but I quite like it. Not everything needs to be hoppy, but a little bit of a hop nose might have been nice.

Back to the brown: brewing from the kit worked well. I put the grains in the muslin bag that came with the kit and tied it to one of the handles on my Gigawort so it stay off the bottom of the kettle. I feared the the liquid malt extract in the kit might sink to the bottom and trigger the run dry sensor in the Gigawort -- and it did -- even though I killed the heat and let it sit for five minutes. Adding the dry extract went fine and got the kettle going again. Putting the recipe into Beersmith I found it to be a bit too bitter for an English brown so I adjusted the hop schedule, adding the second ounce of Willamette hops at five minutes left in the boil. I also decided to added on piece or one "star" of star anise at the end of the boil for a little complexity. I chilled the wort with my copper immersion chiller and got the wort down into the 60s in about a half hour. I pitched the yeast into 65 degree wort about an hour ago and the temperature of the wort has already risen to 71, so I have my Brewjacket Immersion Pro set to 64 as I'm afraid that the heat produced by fermentation could push the wort temperature above it's recommended maximum of 74. Cloud logging is working with my Tilt so I'll be able to monitor the temperature remotely. I won't be able to adjust the temperature remotely but just knowing what's going on will be comforting. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

The Wyeast 3725/BE-134 saison has turned out pretty well. I'm a bit impressed with the clarity. Of course I gave beer a careful pour, but still impressed. Carbonation is a little lower than I'd like but I prefer that to a beer being over-carbonated. It's an earthy spicy saison with a bit of tartness and a surprisingly luxurious mouthfeel. The nose is rather clean for the style and the bitterness is rather robust. It could almost be a pilsner except for the lack of hop aroma and bubblegummy yeasty esters that linger on the palate. The Goldings really express themselves in this beer giving it a near English IPA hop quality. I would have liked something a little less bitter for this time of year, so I may dip into my stash of saison from last year. I also still have some Kölsch, Bière de Garde and Bière de Juin (which turned out hoppy, but not bitter, like this beer.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

The saison-style beer that I brewed a few weeks ago has been bottled. I ended up adding some BE-134 yeast to speed up the fermentation. The Wyeast 3724 slow down but I think I was just impatient after previously fermenting a beer with the BE-134. The orginal gravity 1.047 fermented down to 1.004. This was 91.49 percent attenuation and  5.64 percent alcohol by volume. I bottled after the beer stayed 1.004 for four days. There's definite Dupont character with this beer so adding the BE-134 didn't overwhelm the Wyeast 3724 character. The fermentation seemed to stall at 1.018, but again, I think I was just being impatient. The fermentation temperature started at 82 and I ramped it up to 90 after a few days to try and speed up fermentation. When it seemed to stall I piched the BE-134 and dropped the temperature down to 80. This was all done using the Brewjacket Immersion Pro. 

Sunday, June 07, 2020

Brewed a saison today with six pounds of Briess pilsner DME, one pound of Caravienne malt, East Kent Goldings and Aramis hops fermented with Wyeast 3724 (the famous Dupont strain.} I boiled two ounces of Aramis hops for an hour and one ounce of the Goldings for 20 minutes. I steeped another ounce of Goldings for about 30 minutes starting at 150 degrees. The brew session went well except for miscalculating the evaporation rate. Topped off the fermenter with a little too much water to almost six gallons so I missed my intended original gravity by 10 points. I have the Tilt hydrometer going and the gravity is 1.047 and the temperature is 70. I have the Brewjacket Immersion Pro set to 90F which is supposed to be the outside temperature for the next two days. This will be the first time using the Immersion Pro to raise the temperature to roughly 15 degrees above ambient room temperature. I haven't been able to get the Tilt 2 app for the hydrometer logging correctly. Not sure why. Might try using my other tablet to see if I get better results. Eventually I would like to set up a Tilt Pi.

I'm drinking some of the Japanese Sunshine that I brewed 14 months ago. This a saison-type beer that I make with 70 percent pilsner malt with 30 percent rice. I didn't use rice this time and instead used a William's  liquid malt extract that is 70 percent two-row barley and 30-percent corn. I replaced the Sorachi ace hops with Polish Lubelski and then I got wild and added lemon and sweet orange peel and fermented it with Wyeast 3724 which got stuck, so I added some Wyeast 3711 dregs. It's turned out pretty good, buti is perhaps a touch too sweet. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Earlier this evening I bottled my most recent batch, which I'm now referring to as Bière de Juin. It has turned out to be a very spicy, very pale ale. The BE-134 yeast is a monster, taking the beer from 1.043 to 1.004 in about five days. I've bottled on the eigth day of fermentation and the beer is 90 percent attenuated. I feel like this yeast would have fermented more if had not used a portion of wheat. An all malt beer would probably be even drier. The BE-134 yeast throws a tone of esters. It is POF+ in a very big way with pronounced clove flavor and aroma at bottling time. There is a background peppery note which is suitable for saison but so much clove is almost off-putting. We'll see if it dissipates with time, but I'm ont sure I would use this as my primary yeast for a saison. As a secondary yeast it could help to fully attenuate a fermentation and could add some complexity without hitting the drinker over the head with clove. With that said, I think it could be good for more of a winter saison with additional spices or Grand Cru type Belgian-style strong ale,. I'm probably going to keep using my trusted liquid strains for Saison; strains such as Wyeast 3724, Wyeast 3711 and Omega Saisonstein's Monster.

Monday, May 11, 2020

I plan to bottle the BE-134 Saison tomorrow. I have enough bottles and I appear to have hit terminal gravity at 1.004. That's a 90 percent attenuated beer. I'm guessing it's not going any lower than that because I employed use some wheat extract. I'm anxious to see how this batch turns out. I have a feeling I might want to dry hop it or add some Brett, but we'll see.

I had a bottle a the hoppy red from December in the back of the fridge. Since I need all the bottles I can get, I decided to open this bottle up that I was kind saving for posterity. The batch of an over-carbonated mess, but I don't think it is infected. I just I bottled it too soon with too much priming sugar. Looking back at my notes I think the beer probably hit terminal gravity, as I raised the temperature to 74 (and now I know from using my Tilt Hydrometer that it was probably a few degrees warmer than that.) So I'm sticking with my theory of too much priming sugar. Patience is rewarded with this beer as the foaminess eventually settles leaving a rocky head. The nose if hoppy and so is the flavor with a bit nutty character to go along with caramel malt. Big time Chinook hop flavor in this beer. It finishes quite dry and bitter. Would have been a really good IPA had I not over-carbed it!

Sunday, May 10, 2020

OK. Thought I posted about this already, but I used some credit card points to be buy a Tilt Hydrometer. After testing and calibrating it, I eargerly started planning for my first batch of beer with hands-off remote gravity testing!

The beer I chose to brew as a simple extract Saison-style beer with about 90 percent pilsner malt extract and 10 percent wheat. I boiled for 60 minutes with one ounce of Huell Melons hops and steeped another ounce of the same hops for five minutes at 194 degrees. I had wanted to pitch a yeast from old batch of "wild ale" but failed. I tried to resuscitate some yeast from a bottle of a Saison-type beer I ended up calling Near Wild Heaven that I originally referred to as simply the "wild blonde" that I made about eight years ago. The base yeast for this beer was supposed to be Wyeast 3942, but I ended up using some EC-1112 champagne yeast and added the dregs from a few bottles of "wild ales" until I liked that the tates. I can recall a big cherry pie aroma but it’s much cleaner now and very dry. Not as funky, except in the nose. I was so happy with how this "wild beer" turned out I wanted to try and save the yeast blend. I knew my chances of getting the yeast from less than 12-ounces of such an old bottle of beer to propagate would be slim, but I tried anyway. I failed and ended up using the starter to test a packet a BE-134 dry yeast. I pitched this into the Saison after about a day and it took right off.

I started the current batch of beer on May 4 and so far I've been very pleased with the Tilt. It took some time to figure out how to log my results to the cloud, but I know have a spreadsheet of gravity and temperature readings at 15-minute intervals. It's pretty awesome to see the ups and downs of fermentation. For example, the beer seemed to stall a couple days at 1.028, so I roused the fermenter and raised the temperature and it seemed to get going again. As I've written, I do almost all fermentations inside of a Brewjacket Immersion Pro and this was my first time using the Immersion to raise the tempeartue of a fermentation. I started the ferment at about 74 and raised to 78 over the course this week. The Tilt, however, has reported actual wort temperatures as high as 80. I was bit suprised that it hit 80 degrees as the weather outside has been cool with nighttime temperatures in the 30s and 40s. Surprised, but not alarmed though, as the recommended fermentation temperature range for BE-134 yeast is 64 to 82 degrees. With the Tilt and the Immesion I feel like I have a lot of control over my fermentations now. I hope to continue to have success with the both the Tilt and the Brewjacket Immersin Pro.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

I have a lot of homebrew right now. I've been brewing more since the start of stay-at-home orders. Beers that I have on hand include from (oldest to newest) are Near Wild Heaven (American Wild Ale made with dregs of Jolly Pumpkin Bam Biere), Wee Heavy (Northern Brewer recipe from 2012), a few different Saison from the last five years or so, the Ardennes Porter, Robust Porter, Bière de Garde and now Kölsch.

The rocky head on the B-d-G trying to get away.
Tonight I've cracked open a bottle of Bière de Garde. The recipe included Briess Pilsner DME, Aromatic and Vienna malts along with Aramis and Styrian Goldings hops. I used the K-97 yeast which is the same that I used for the Kölsch that I just bottled. The Bière de Garde was really phenolic at first as it fermented well above it's range. The Brewjacket Immersion that I was using at the time seemed to have short-circuited and the fermentation temperature went up into the 80s. That was back in October.  The beer has since mellowed and is quite as phenolic, quite dry and pours with a rocky, persistent head (left.)

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I think my next beer will be a Saison, I just have to figure out if I want to a bigger batch and be more of a Grisette. I would need to acquire some good dregs to add the requisite tartness if I make a Grisette. I would otherwise make four gallons of a standard "export" type of Saison in the vein of Saison DuPont.

Monday, April 20, 2020

The Grodizskie was a disaster. It fermented fine, but by bottle crapper broke after capping just one bottle. I ended up filling a two-liter swing top growler that I remembered I had. Need to chill it down at some point and see if it carbonated. Kind of waiting for party since it's two liters of beer....but parties are kind of banned now due to the ongoing pandemic. Yes, there's a pandemic now. A coronavirus called COVID-19 has shutdown restaurants, bars and most retail except groceries. So I expect homebrewing to become more popular. It seems like homebrew shops are still selling supplies online. I bought some supplies a few weeks ago early on in the stay at home order part of the pandemic response in my area. I have enough ingredients to brew another batch of beer...yes, another batch. My first "pandemic" batch got bottled today.

Pandemic Pale Ale (because why not) is a really pale ale, a blond ale in fact. I fermented it with Safale K-97 yeast. It was a simple batch of Briess and Munton's light DME along with Styrian Goldings and Sterline hops. I added and ounce of the Sterling at one minute left in the 60-minute boil while the Styrians boiled for 60 minutes (they were only 2.8% AA) for bittering. I fermented at 62 degrees to start and then raised the temerature slightly after five days to 64. I bottled tonight, on the tenth day of fermention, with the gravity at 1.008. The starting gravity was 1.047. I packaged about 14 liters of beer. Most of it was put into 500ml bottles I recently purchased and a few my cobalt blue swingtops that I have left.

I have a lot of homebrew right now. I have a case or more of the Ardennes Porter and a case of the Blond Biere de Garde I brewed awhile back. Both of these beers are overcarbonated. I looked back through my notes and searched my memory and I think I simply added too much priming sugar. For both of these batches I measured 2/3 of a cup of priming sugar for some reason which I believe to be too much. It could also be that both of these weren't quite finished or perhaps a non-spoiling bacteria. I also have a case of Robust Porter that turned out very nice and is NOT overcarbonated.

My next batch will likely be a farmhouse ale as I have some Safale BE-134 in the fridge and plenty more Sterling hop as well as some Huel Melon.

Monday, February 24, 2020

This poor little neglected blog....a lot has happend since November 2019. The black ale I brewed back in September has turned out pretty good except for being over-carbonated. No gushing bottles, but it is very carbonated. This of course lends itself to a lasting rocky head. One just needs to be patient though as to not swallow a bunch of gas. I haven't opened a bottle of Belgian-style black ale in months. I've dubbed it Porter des Ardennes. It is deep brown and quite like a Batlic porter brewed with a Belgian yeast. My tasting notes:
Whoa...lots of carbonation...but not a gusher...just think I added too much priming sugar. Need to measure on the scale and hot the measuring cup/glass. Sustained head. Deep dark brown color. Candi sugar aroma with raisins, plums and dark chocolate. Very little discernable hop nose. A bit prickly on the tongue due to the high level of carbonation. Sweet up front with baker's chocolate bitterness and black rum but finishes long with a bit winey and tart with a bit of bitterness that fades to candi sugar and toffee. Hard to believe it's been six months in the bottle.
 I haven't tasted the Biere de Garde in quite awhile, that will likley happend another night. In the meantime, I need to update this blog with the details of three other batches of beer: the red ale that I brewed for Christmas, another Porter and a Grodziskie. The red ale is almost gone. I gave away a few bottles but stopped after noticing a possible infection (yes, gushing bottles.) I haven't been able to tell if the beer is infected but there is a sort of rose water character that my wife likes but that I think is a sign of infection. The beer is otherwise drinkable and fairly tasty once it settles down. Following the red ale I brewed a Brewer's Best Robust Porter kit in which I substituted the Hallertau finishing hops for Chinook. Following that I brewed a Grodziskie (also known as a Gratzer), an ale made with entirely oak smoked wheat malt. I used the Hallertauer hops from the Brewer's Best kit for bittering this beer and some Styrian Goldings at the end of the boil for finishing. The Grodziskie is still fermenting but will likely get bottled in the next day or two. Both the Porter and Grodziskie were fermented in my Brewjacket Immersion Pro with the temperature set in the 60s. I pitched Nottingham dry yeast for the Porter and Safale K-97 for the Grodziskie. The Nottingham fermented at 66 to start and I raised it to 70 after the first four days. The K-97 started at 64 and I let it rise to 68 after the first five days. It'll be 10 days in the fermenter in another day. I'm a bit worried about using too much gypsum in the Grodziskie but want the beer to have a bracing bitterness. We'll see how it turns out.

Here's the three-gallon recipe for the Grodziskie: