Friday, February 17, 2012

Off to produce a new one today...

I have had the itch for a while... I bottled my last batch (a very nice wheat beer...mmmmm) several weeks ago and my living room is missing my favorite feature... an actively bubbling fermenter in the corner!

So I picked up some grain yesterday evening at BFD and I am going to spend this morning brewing a batch of beer.

I'm making the wheat beer again but with a tweak... The target of the last batch was 4.5 ABV.  What I actually hit was 3.9 ABV. more on that later.. .

My new target is 6 ABV (yes... a stronger brew.. mohoohoohahahah). This calls for a bit more grain than the last batch. The grain bill here is going to be approximately 14 pounds..

What I am brewing up is...

7.9   pounds US 2-Row malt
4.86 pounds US White Wheat Malt
1.21 pounds US Carapils Malt

Hops are gonna be US Cascade... 2 oz total.. .5 oz at 60 min, 1oz at 15, .5 oz at 0

and half an oz of sweet orange peel.... in the fermenter.

I am such a nerd, I'm blogging about this now.. before even having breakfast... anyways..

It helps to have the right tools too. I got into a little trouble last time because I used too much water in the sparging process. I had to boil for an extra 30 min. to get the volume down and I was still a little bit over where I needed to be..

I was doing it by eyeballing the thing and that is clearly not the way to go. It helps to have a calculator that tells you exactly how much water you should use in the process. There is one in BeerAlchemy, the program I use to design my concoctions and there are several available online.. There is a rather nice one here: at brew 365.

So I punch in my figures and... 

It looks like I am going to need to start getting 4.65 gallons of water heated up for the mashing.. and have the sparge on standby, 4.91 gallons. 

For the non-brewer, the mashing is equivalent to when you drop your teabag in the boiling water to brew. Sparging is running more hot water through after you've drained the pot so you can get all the tea you can get out of that bag.

So now I am off to start brewing... oh, and I better grab some breakfast and all that jazz too.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

My Dark ale....

It came out tasting great! ...the problem is that I did not use enough dextrose to prime it before bottling. There is barely a bubble when poured. It is rather flat.

I am hoping that with age, it will be better. I need to bottle the other brew (my wheat beer) but I'm low on empties and caps. I'm going to have to let that sit in the secondary for another week or so before I bottle it.

I don't have it in my budget this week to make any more brew purchasing. Another week in the secondary fermenter can't hurt.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Well... Actually...

I ended up bottling the dark ale this morning. I became tied up in a project yesterday.

So the % ABV.. half a point lower than my expectations.. was 4%  ...not bad. I'd like to go stronger but this was my first brew using a mashing tun. My second brew with the tun won't be much better (recall, I used too much water, thinned it out a bit).. but hey..

It'll still taste great, which is my goal anyway.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Bottle Day...

I have one brew in the primary fermenter and the other in the secondary. The secondary is going into the bottle today! ...its my normal dark ale with sweet orange peel added to it. I am looking forward to finding out how it turns out.. It needs to sit in the bottle for at least another week before I can try it out.

With that... the wheat beer I started 2 weeks ago will go into the secondary after I've cleaned and sterilized the container. I'm looking forward to that one as well. I really like wheat beer.

That is the nice thing about this hobby; You can indulge your taste without breaking the bank. Each batch costs me about $30 - $40 in materials (grain, hops, yeast, etc...) and produces about two cases of beer. I average about $35 a batch.

Your average factory-made premium beer costs about $12 for a 12 pack.. plus taxes... more if your favorite brew is not on sale (I am partial to Blue Moon).

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Dogs dig the biscuits...

I made up a batch of spent-grain dog biscuits..

They were a hit..


I still have some raw material about. I may make up some more for the pups later. I also want to try out one of the various bread recipes out there that use spent grain..

Friday, December 9, 2011

I tried a Spinning class yesterday evening

...and I survived to tell the tale.

It was actually pretty fun. I had to disassociate what I was doing from actual cycling. My cleats did not work with the bikes they had there. Mine are either the wrong style or (more likely) they are mated to my own bike's pedals. I used to toe straps instead.

Because of my personal geometry vs the bike, I did not do any of the standing on the pedals parts.. I just stayed in the saddle.

One.. it feels unnatural to me to stand on a bike (even my own) unless I am actually climbing a hill.. two, kept slipping out of those stupid straps.. and three, there's this object in my way.. below my chest and above my waist. ;)

But it was fun nonetheless. I had a good sweat and it was more engaging an activity in a room full of people than alone on my bike trainer in my house.  On my bike trainer, it is a real struggle to get past 30 min. without getting bored to death.

So.. I'll go back and do it again and maybe some more. ...and to think, when I was in shape and on the trail every day; I used to mock people in spin classes because they were only "play-cycling" and not getting the fulfillment of being out on the open road.

Off Target

I used too much water for the wheat beer.

My pre-boil gravity was pretty on target but I did that check prior to sparging.

I was shooting for an OG of 1.061 and what I got was 1.034

My other brew that is in the secondary (a dark evil brew).. had an OG of 1.040 and was 1.010 going into the secondary (that one is doing fine)

Insult to injury.. its been in the fermenter for two days now and no action. I see some sediment on the bottom but no krauzen or anything happening up top.

So.. the recipe for this disaster was:

6.5 pounds 2-row
4 pounds White Wheat malt
1 pound Carapils

half-oz US Cascade at the start of boil
1 oz US Cascade at 15 min.
half-oz US Cascade at end of boil

Half-oz sweet orange peel at 15 min.

White labs hefeweizen ale yeast

Steeped at 150 Deg. F for an hour.. boiled for 90 min.

I will have to be more mindful of how much water I am using next time.